Tumor-targeting nanogel that can function independently for both photodynamic and photothermal therapy and its synergy from the procedure of PDT followed by PTT

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A dual-function nano-system for synergistic photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photothermal therapy (PTT) was constructed. Gold nanorods (GNRs) as a PTT agent and chlorin e6 (Ce6) as a photosensitizer (PS) for PDT were loaded into a chitosan-functionalized, Pluronic-based nanogel that was proven to be an efficient delivery vehicle to the tumor site in vivo. Previously reported combined therapy systems relied on quenching and de-quenching of PS for PDT upon thermo-impact of PTT, thus only PTT followed by PDT procedure was possible. In contrast, the present dual-acting system has no quenching between PS and GNRs by preventing direct contact and self-aggregation of photo-sensitizers, allowing independent PDT or PTT procedure. In both in vitro cell culture and in vivo tumor-bearing mice experiments, a remarkably enhanced tumor ablation compared to the treatment of PDT or PTT only was observed by the treatment of PDT followed by PTT, but not significantly by the treatment of PTT followed by PDT. Thus, the present study demonstrated the synergistic effect of PDT and PTT in a sequence-dependent manner, and our system is a promising dual function nano system to achieve the enhanced phototherapy in vivo.

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