A novel nanomissile targeting two biomarkers and accurately bombing CTCs with doxorubicin
Rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) cause >50% of primary colorectal cancer survivors to develop deadly metastasis at 3–5 years after surgery; the current chemotherapies can do nothing about these cells. Herein, we synthesized a novel doxorubicin (DOX)-entrapped mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSN), covalently-conjugated with two aptamers, for simultaneously targeting EpCAM and CD44, the typical surface biomarkers of colorectal CTCs. The nanomissile can specifically capture the metastasis-prone CTCs spiked in healthy human blood in a competitive-binding manner. The binding not only accurately delivers DOX into the cancer cells via the biomarker-mediated endocytosis to inhibit CTC viability through the DOX-dependent mechanism, but also inhibits the adhesion of cancer cells to the endothelium and the consequent transmembrane migration through the DOX-independent mechanism. The molecular entity of the conjugate and its pharmaceutical DOX encapsulation-releasing capacity are well-demonstrated via various physiochemical characterizations including gel electrophoresis, which proves the >8-hour biostability of the nanomissile in blood, long enough for it to chase CTCs in mice and synergistically inhibit the CTC-induced lung metastasis more potently than its single aptamer-conjugated counterparts and DOX itself. The present strategy may pave a new avenue for safe and effective cancer metastasis chemoprevention.