Development of elastin-like polypeptide for thermally targeted delivery of doxorubicin

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The chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (Dox) is widely used as an antitumor agent in hematological malignancies and solid tumors. However, one of the limitations of its clinical use is that systemic administration of an effective dose of Dox results in nonselective cardiac toxicity and myelosuppression. In order to minimize this nonspecific toxicity, Elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) was examined for its ability to serve as a macromolecular carrier for thermally targeted delivery of Dox. The ELP-based doxorubicin delivery vehicle (Tat-ELP-GFLG-Dox) consists of: (1) a peptide derived from the HIV-1 Tat protein to facilitate its cellular uptake, (2) ELP to allow thermal targeting, and (3) the lysosomally degradable glycylphenylalanylleucylglycine (GFLG) spacer and a cysteine residue conjugated to a thiol reactive doxorubicin derivative. Cytotoxicity of Tat-ELP-GFLG-Dox in MES-SA uterine sarcoma cells was enhanced 20-fold when aggregation of ELP was induced with hyperthermia. The ELP delivered doxorubicin displayed a cytoplasmic distribution and induced temperature dependent caspase activation.

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