A new targeted delivery approach by functionalizing drug nanocrystals through polydopamine coating

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Tumor target specificity via chemotherapy is widely considered to be very effective on tumor treatment. For an ideal chemotherapeutic agent like Camptothecin (CPT) (CPT is the abbreviation for Camptothecin), improved therapeutic efficacy and high selectivity are equally important. Inspired by adhesive proteins in mussels, here we developed a novel tumor targeting peptide XQ1 grafted CPT nanocrystals with polydopamine coating as a spacer. In this study, CPT nanocrystals were coated by polymerization of dopamine that was induced by plasma-activated water under an acidic environment, and then the tumor targeting peptide was grafted onto polydopamine (PDA) (PDA is the abbreviation for polydopamine) coated CPT nanocrystals through catechol chemistry. The PDA layer had negligible effects on drug crystallinity and structure but resulted in drug nanocrystals with excellent dispersion properties, improved dissolution rate and drug stability by preventing water hydrolysis. More importantly, tumor targeting peptide XQ1 facilitated a rapid cross-membrane translocation of drug nanocrystals via receptor-mediated endocytosis, leading to efficient intracellular drug delivery. Moreover, this novel drug formulation demonstrated more potent anti-cancer activity against tumor cells in comparison with free CPT and naked CPT nanocrystals and exhibited high selectivity, all of which are attributed to the tumor target specificity property and inherent pH-dependent drug release behavior.

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