Biparatopic Protein Nanoparticles for the Precision Therapy of CXCR4<sup>+</sup> Cancers

Olivia Cano-Garrido, Patricia Álamo, Laura Sánchez-García, Aïda Falgàs, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Naroa Serna, Eloi Parladé, Ugutz Unzueta, Mònica Roldán, Isolda Casanova, Antonio Villaverde, Ramon Mangues, Esther Vazquez, Eric Voltà Durán

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Simple Summary Aimed at minimizing side toxicities cancer therapies require appropriate functional vehicles at the nanoscale, for receptor-mediated tumor-targeted drug delivery. The aim of the present study was to explore the human peptide EPI-X4 as a CXCR4-targeting agent in self-assembled, protein-only nanoparticles. While the systemic tumor biodistribution of EPI-X4-based materials is modest, this peptide shows potent proapoptotic effects on CXCR4(+) cancer cells. Interestingly, the in vivo selectivity of EPI-X4 was dramatically improved, once combined into biparatopic nanoparticles, with a second CXCR4 ligand, the peptide T22. Biparatopic nanoparticles promote a highly selective tumor destruction in a mouse model of human colorectal cancer, probably associated to the CXCR4 antagonist role of EPI-X4. This study not only validates a new human ligand of the tumoral marker CXCR4, but it also offers a novel strategy for the combination, in protein nanoparticles, of dual acting ligands of tumoral markers for highly selective drug delivery. The accumulated molecular knowledge about human cancer enables the identification of multiple cell surface markers as highly specific therapeutic targets. A proper tumor targeting could significantly avoid drug exposure of healthy cells, minimizing side effects, but it is also expected to increase the therapeutic index. Specifically, colorectal cancer has a particularly poor prognosis in late stages, being drug targeting an appropriate strategy to substantially improve the therapeutic efficacy. In this study, we have explored the potential of the human albumin-derived peptide, EPI-X4, as a suitable ligand to target colorectal cancer via the cell surface protein CXCR4, a chemokine receptor overexpressed in cancer stem cells. To explore the potential use of this ligand, self-assembling protein nanoparticles have been generated displaying an engineered EPI-X4 version, which conferred a modest CXCR4 targeting and fast and high level of cell apoptosis in tumor CXCR4(+) cells, in vitro and in vivo. In addition, when EPI-X4-based building blocks are combined with biologically inert polypeptides containing the CXCR4 ligand T22, the resulting biparatopic nanoparticles show a dramatically improved biodistribution in mouse models of CXCR4(+) human cancer, faster cell internalization and enhanced target cell death when compared to the version based on a single ligand. The generation of biparatopic materials opens exciting possibilities in oncotherapies based on high precision drug delivery based on the receptor CXCR4.

Idioma originalEnglish
Número d’article2929
Nombre de pàgines17
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 11 de juny 2021


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