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ACS Nano. 2016 Dec 27;10(12):10858-10868. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.6b05113. Epub 2016 Nov 16.

Gold-Nanoclustered Hyaluronan Nano-Assemblies for Photothermally Maneuvered Photodynamic Tumor Ablation.

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School of Chemical Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University , Suwon 16419, Republic of Korea.
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, SAIHST, Sungkyunkwan University , Seoul 06351, Republic of Korea.


Optically active nanomaterials have shown great promise as a nanomedicine platform for photothermal or photodynamic cancer therapies. Herein, we report a gold-nanoclustered hyaluronan nanoassembly (GNc-HyNA) for photothermally boosted photodynamic tumor ablation. Unlike other supramolecular gold constructs based on gold nanoparticle building blocks, this system utilizes the nanoassembly of amphiphilic hyaluronan conjugates as a drug carrier for a hydrophobic photodynamic therapy agent verteporfin, a polymeric reducing agent, and an organic nanoscaffold upon which gold can grow. Gold nanoclusters were selectively installed on the outer shell of the hyaluronan nanoassembly, forming a gold shell. Given the dual protection effect by the hyaluronan self-assembly as well as by the inorganic gold shell, verteporfin-encapsulated GNc-HyNA (Vp-GNc-HyNA) exhibited outstanding stability in the bloodstream. Interestingly, the fluorescence and photodynamic properties of Vp-GNc-HyNA were considerably quenched due to the gold nanoclusters covering the surface of the nanoassemblies; however, photothermal activation by 808 nm laser irradiation induced a significant increase in temperature, which empowered the PDT effect of Vp-GNc-HyNA. Furthermore, fluorescence and photodynamic effects were recovered far more rapidly in cancer cells due to certain intracellular enzymes, particularly hyaluronidases and glutathione. Vp-GNc-HyNA exerted a great potential to treat tumors both in vitro and in vivo. Tumors were completely ablated with a 100% survival rate and complete skin regeneration over the 50 days following Vp-GNc-HyNA treatment in an orthotopic breast tumor model. Our results suggest that photothermally boosted photodynamic therapy using Vp-GNc-HyNA can offer a potent therapeutic means to eradicate tumors.


gold; hyaluronan; hybrid nanomaterials; photodynamic therapy; photothermal therapy

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