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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2017 Jul 12;9(27):22259-22267. doi: 10.1021/acsami.7b05664. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Nucleation and Assembly of Silica into Protein-Based Nanocomposites as Effective Anticancer Drug Carriers Using Self-Assembled Silk Protein Nanostructures as Biotemplates.

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School of Materials Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University , Hangzhou 310027, China.
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Stephenson Life Science Research Center, University of Oklahoma , 101 Stephenson Parkway, Norman, Oklahoma 73019-5251, United States.


Bombyx mori (B. mori) silk fibroin and sericin can act as a great candidate in delivering drugs or other bioactive substances. Silica also has a great application in the field of drug delivery. To the best of our knowledge, there has been no report on the design of a nanocomposite made of silk protein and silica for drug delivery. Here, for the first time, we used B. mori silk fibroin (SF) and sericin (SS), self-assembled into nanospheres and nanofibers in situ in the aqueous solution, respectively, as a biotemplate to regulate the nucleation and self-assembly of silica for designing anticancer drug delivery. SF and SS mediated the nucleation and assembly of silica into monodispersed nanospheres (termed Si/SF) and nanofibers (termed Si/SS), respectively. The size and topography of the silica assemblies were dependent on the concentration of SF or SS as well as reaction conditions. Both Si/SF nanospheres and Si/SS nanofibers showed a high loading capability and sustained release profile of an anticancer drug, doxorubicin (DOX), in vitro. Si/SF nanospheres were found to be efficiently internalized in human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cells and accumulate around the cell nuclei. Si/SS nanofibers could only adhere to the surface of the cancer cells. This indicates that DOX-loaded Si/SF nanospheres and Si/SS nanofibers are more effective in cancer therapy than free DOX. Our results suggest that the self-assembled Si/SF spheres and Si/SS nanofibers are potential effective anticancer drug carriers.


drug delivery; nanofibers; nanospheres; protein; silica

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