The use of targeted nanoparticles (NPs) as a platform for loading photosensitizers enables selective accumulation of the photosensitizers in the tumor area, while maintaining their photodynamic therapy (PDT) effectiveness. Here two novel kinds of methylene blue (MB)-conjugated polyacrylamide (PAA) nanoparticles, MBI-PAA NPs and MBII-PAA NPs, based on two separate MB derivatives, are developed for PDT. This covalent conjugation with the NPs (i) improves the loading of MB, (ii) prevents any leaching of MB from the NPs and (iii) protects the MB from the effects of enzymes in the biological environment. The loading of MB into these two kinds of NPs was controlled by the input amount, resulting in concentrations with optimal singlet oxygen production. For each of the MB-NPs, the highest singlet oxygen production was found for an MB loading of around 11 nmol mg−1. After attachment of F3 peptide groups, for targeting, each of these NPs was taken up, selectively, by MDA-MB-435 tumor cells, in vitro. PDT tests demonstrated that both kinds of targeted NPs resulted in effective tumor cell kill, following illumination, while not causing dark toxicity.
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