Organic Stealth Nanoparticles for Highly Effective in Vivo Near-Infrared Photothermal Therapy of Cancer
Liang Cheng, Kai Yang, Qian Chen, and Zhuang Liu*
Functional Nano & Soft Materials Laboratory (FUNSOM) and Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Carbon-Based Functional Materials & Devices, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123, China
In recent years, a wide range of near-infrared (NIR) light absorbing nanomaterials, mostly inorganic ones, have been developed for photothermal therapy (PTT) of cancer. In this work, we develop a novel organic PTT agent based on poly-(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(4-styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS), a conductive polymermixture with strong NIR absorbance, for in vivo photothermal treatment of cancer. After being layer-by-layer coated with charged polymers and then conjugated with branched polyethylene glycol (PEG), the obtained PEDOT:PSS-PEG nanoparticles are highly stable in the physiological environment and exhibit a stealth-like behavior after intravenous injection with a long blood circulation half-life. As a result, an extremely high in vivo tumor uptake of PEDOT:PSS-PEG attributed to the tumor-enhanced permeability and retention effect is observed. We further use PEDOT:PSS-PEG as a PTT agent for in vivo cancer treatment and realize excellent therapeutic efficacy in a mouse tumor model under NIR light irradiation at a low laser power density. Comprehensive blood tests and careful histological examination reveal no apparent toxicity of PEDOT:PSS-PEG to mice at our treated dose within 40 days. To our best knowledge, this work is the first to use systemically administrated conductive polymer nanoparticles for highly effective in vivo PTT treatment in animals and encourages further explorations of those organic nanomaterials for cancer theranostic applications.