A lipidic mesophase with tunable release properties for the local delivery of macromolecules: the apoferritin nanocage, a case study†
Lipid mesophases are able to incorporate and release a plethora of molecules, spanning from hydrophobic drugs to small hydrophilic proteins and therefore they have been widely used as drug delivery systems. However, their 3–5 nm water channels do not allow the release of large hydrophilic molecules such as monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins. To overcome this major geometrical constraint, we designed a gel by mixing monoacylglycerol lipids, generally recognized as safe for human and/or animal use by FDA, and phospholipids, to obtain a material with swollen water channels suitable to host and further release macromolecules. Apoferritin, a 12 nm nanocage protein with intrinsic tumor-targeting properties able to incorporate several molecules, was selected here as the hydrophilic model protein to be embedded in the biocompatible gel. When immersed completely in the release media, mesophases with a swollen water channel of 22 nm, composed of monoolein and doped with 5 mole% of DOPS and 10 mole% of Chol allowed us to achieve a protein release of 60%, which is 120 times higher with respect to that obtained by employing non swollen-LMPs composed only of monoolein. Thus, the formulation can be administered locally to the rectal or vaginal mucosa, reducing the drawbacks often associated with the parenteral administration of bio-therapeutics. This approach would pave the way for the local application of other biomacromolecules (including human ferritin, monoclonal antibodies and antibody drug-conjugates) in those diseases easily reachable by a local application such as rectal or vaginal cancer.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles