A facile approach to functionalizing cell membrane-coated nanoparticles with neurotoxin-derived peptide for brain-targeted drug delivery

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The blood brain barrier separates the circulating blood from the extracellular fluid in the central nervous system and thus presents an essential obstacle to brain transport of therapeutics. Herein, we report on an effective brain-targeted drug delivery system that combines a robust red blood cell membrane-coated nanoparticle (RBCNP) with a unique neurotoxin-derived targeting moiety. The RBCNPs retain the complex biological functions of natural cell membranes while exhibiting physicochemical properties that are suitable for effective drug delivery. CDX peptide is derived from candoxin and shows high binding affinity with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) expressed on the surface of brain endothelial cells. Through a facile yet robust approach, we successfully incorporate DCDX peptides onto the surface of RBCNPs without compromising the peptide's brain targeting ability. The resulting DCDX-RBCNPs show promising brain targeting efficiency both in vitro and in vivo. Using a glioma mouse model, we demonstrate that doxorubicin-loaded DCDX-RBCNPs have superior therapeutic efficacy and markedly reduced toxicity as compared to the nontargeted drug formulations. While RBCNPs are used as a model system to evaluate the surface modification approach, the reported method can be readily generalized to various types of cell membrane-derived nanocarriers for broad medical applications.Graphical abstract

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