RBC micromotors carrying multiple cargos towards potential theranostic applications
Red blood cell (RBC)-based micromotors containing both therapeutic and diagnostic modalities are described as a means for potential theranostic applications. In this natural RBC-based multicargo-loaded micromotor system, quantum dots (QDs), anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (DOX), and magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), were co-encapsulated into RBC micromotors. The fluorescent emission of both QDs and DOX provides direct visualization of their loading inside the RBC motors at two distinct wavelengths. The presence of MNPs within the RBCs allows for efficient magnetic guidance under ultrasound propulsion along with providing the potential for magnetic resonance imaging. The simultaneous encapsulation of the imaging nanoparticles and therapeutic payloads within the same RBC micromotor has a minimal effect upon its propulsion behavior. The ability of the RBC micromotors to transport imaging and therapeutic agents at high speed and spatial precision through a complex microchannel network is also demonstrated. Such ability to load and transport diagnostic imaging agents and therapeutic drugs within a single cell-based motor, in addition to a lower toxicity observed once the drug is encapsulated within the multicargo RBC motor, opens the door to the development of theranostic micromotors that may simultaneously treat and monitor diseases.