Molecularly targeted nanocarriers deliver the cytolytic peptide melittin specifically to tumor cells in mice, reducing tumor growth

Neelesh R. Soman, Steven L. Baldwin, Grace Hu, Jon N. Marsh, Gregory M. Lanza, John E. Heuser, Jeffrey M. Arbeit, Samuel A. Wickline, Paul H. Schlesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

188 Scopus citations

Abstract

The in vivo application of cytolytic peptides for cancer therapeutics is hampered by toxicity, nonspecificity, and degradation. We previously developed a specific strategy to synthesize a nanoscale delivery vehicle for cytolytic peptides by incorporating the nonspecific amphipathic cytolytic peptide melittin into the outer lipid monolayer of a perfluorocarbon nanoparticle. Here, we have demonstrated that the favorable pharmacokinetics of this nanocarrier allows accumulation of melittin in murine tumors in vivo and a dramatic reduction in tumor growth without any apparent signs of toxicity. Furthermore, direct assays demonstrated that molecularly targeted nanocarriers selectively delivered melittin to multiple tumor targets, including endothelial and cancer cells, through a hemifusion mechanism. In cells, this hemifusion and transfer process did not disrupt the surface membrane but did trigger apoptosis and in animals caused regression of precancerous dysplastic lesions. Collectively, these data suggest that the ability to restrain the wide-spectrum lytic potential of a potent cytolytic peptide in a nanovehicle, combined with the flexibility of passive or active molecular targeting, represents an innovative molecular design for chemotherapy with broad-spectrum cytolytic peptides for the treatment of cancer at multiple stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2830-2842
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Volume119
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

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