NIR-cleavable drug adducts of gold nanostars for overcoming multidrug-resistant tumors†
An aptamer-conjugated gold nanostar (dsDDA–AuNS) has been developed for targeting nucleolin present in both tumor cells and tumor vasculature for conducting a drug-resistant cancer therapy. AuNS with its strong absorption in the near-infrared (NIR) region was assembled with a layer of the anti-nucleolin aptamer AS1411. An anticancer drug, namely doxorubicin (DOX), was specifically conjugated on deoxyguanosine residues employing heat and acid labile methylene linkages. In response to NIR irradiation, dsDDA–AuNS allowed on-demand therapeutics. AS1411 played an active role in drug cargo–nucleus interactions, enhancing drug accumulation in the nuclei of drug-resistant breast cancer cells. The intravenous injection of dsDDA–AuNS allowed higher drug accumulation in drug-resistant tumors over naked drugs, leading to greater therapeutic efficacy even at a 54-fold less equivalent drug dose. The in vivo triggered release of DOX from dsDDA–AuNS was achieved by NIR irradiation, resulting in simultaneous photothermal and chemotherapeutic actions, yielding superior tumor growth inhibition than those obtained from either type of monotherapy for overcoming drug resistance in cancers.