Selective delivery of photothermal nanoparticles to tumors using mesenchymal stem cells as Trojan horses†
The main challenge of cancer treatment is to avoid or minimize systemic side effects in off-target tissues. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be used as therapeutical carriers because of their ability to migrate and incorporate into inflammation areas including tumors. Here, this homing ability is exploited by carrying therapeutic nanoparticles (Hollow Gold Nanoparticles (HGNs)) following a “Trojan-horse” strategy. Amongst the different nanoparticles to be employed, HGNs have the capacity to resonate in the near infrared region when irradiated by an appropriated laser (808 nm). By transforming this absorbed energy into heat, they are capable to produce locally induced hyperthermia. At this wavelength healthy tissues have a minimal light absorption being the effect restricted to the tissues containing HGNs. By placing HGNs inside MSCs, the recognition, excretion and immune response are minimized. We demonstrate that MSCs internalize HGNs and reach the tumors still containing HGNs. After laser treatment this loaded cells are able to eradicate tumoral cells in vitro and in vivo without significant toxicity. Also Ki67 expression, which is usually correlated with proliferation, is reduced after treatment. This approach enhances the effectiveness of the treatment when compared to just the enhanced permeation and retention effect (EPR) of the HGNs by themselves.