Protein-gold clusters-capped mesoporous silica nanoparticles for high drug loading, autonomous gemcitabine/doxorubicin co-delivery, and in-vivo tumor imaging

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Abstract

Functional nanocarriers capable of transporting high drug contents without premature leakage and to controllably deliver several drugs are needed for better cancer treatments. To address this clinical need, gold cluster bovine serum albumin (AuNC@BSA) nanogates were engineered on mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) for high drug loadings and co-delivery of two different anticancer drugs. The first drug, gemcitabine (GEM, 40 wt%), was loaded in positively-charged ammonium-functionalized MSN (MSN-NH3+). The second drug, doxorubicin (DOX, 32 wt%), was bound with negatively-charged AuNC@BSA electrostatically-attached onto MSN-NH3+, affording highly loaded pH-responsive MSN-AuNC@BSA nanocarriers. The co-delivery of DOX and GEM was achieved for the first time via an inorganic nanocarrier, possessing a zero-premature leakage behavior as well as drug loading capacities seven times higher than polymersome NPs. Besides, unlike the majority of strategies used to cap the pores of MSN, AuNC@BSA nanogates are biotools and were applied for targeted red nuclear staining and in-vivo tumor imaging. The straightforward non-covalent combination of MSN and gold-protein cluster bioconjugates thus leads to a simple, yet multifunctional nanotheranostic for the next generation of cancer treatments.

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