Circulating tumor-cell-targeting Au-nanocage-mediated bimodal phototherapeutic properties enriched by magnetic nanocores†
Metastasis resulting from circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is associated with 90% of all cancer mortality. To disrupt cancer dissemination, therapeutic targeting of CTCs by extracorporeal photodynamic therapy (PDT) has emerged; however, it still remains impractical due to its limited therapeutic window. Herein, we developed a photosensitive and magnetic targeted core–satellite nanomedicine (TCSN) to augment the light-induced damage to the targeted cells. The magnetic nanocore (MNC) with multiple iron oxide nanoparticles stabilized using thiolated polyvinyl alcohol can magnetize the CTCs to achieve magnetic enrichment under a magnetic field. Multiple gold nanocage (AuNC) satellites were conjugated on the MNC to facilitate bimodal photothermal therapy and PDT. Adjusting the thiol content in the MNC allows manipulating the AuNC density on TCSNs, which has been found to demonstrate a density-dependent bimodal phototherapeutic effect under laser irradiation at 808 and 940 nm. Moreover, with the immobilization of anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule (anti-EpCAM), TCSN exhibited an enhanced affinity toward EpCAM-expressing 4T1 cells. We demonstrate that TCSN-labeled 4T1 cells can be isolated and photo-eradicated in a microfluidic channel with a dynamic flow. Our studies showed that TCSN with the complementary properties of MNC and AuNCs can largely augment the therapeutic window by magnetic enrichment and bimodal phototherapy, serving as an advanced extracorporeal strategy to remove CTCs.