Antineoplastic effect of a diphtheria toxin-based nanoparticle targeting acute myeloid leukemia cells overexpressing CXCR4

Victor Pallarès, Yáiza Núñez, Laura Sánchez-García, Aïda Falgàs, Naroa Serna, Ugutz Unzueta, Alberto Gallardo, Lorena Alba-Castellón, Patricia Álamo, Jorge Sierra, Antonio Villaverde, Esther Vázquez, Isolda Casanova*, Ramon Mangues

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Nanomedicine has opened an opportunity to improve current clinical practice by enhancing the selectivity in the delivery of antitumor drugs to specific cancer cells. These new strategies are able to bypass toxicity on normal cells increasing the effectiveness of current anticancer treatments. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML) current chemotherapy treatments generate a relevant toxic impact in normal cells and severe side effects or even patient death. In this study, we have designed a self-assembling protein nanoparticle, T22-DITOX-H6, which incorporates a ligand (T22) targeting CXCR4-overexpressing (CXCR4+) cells, and a potent cytotoxic diphtheria toxin domain. CXCR4 is overexpressed in AML leukemic cells and associates with poor prognosis, being, therefore, a relevant clinical target. We demonstrate here that T22-DITOX-H6 induces apoptosis in CXCR4+ leukemic cells through CXCR4-dependent internalization. In addition, repeated T22-DITOX-H6 treatment (10 mu g/ dose per 10 doses, intravenously injected) in a disseminated AML mouse model (NSG mice intravenously injected with THP-1-Luci cells, n = 10 per group) potently blocks the dissemination of AML cells in bone marrow, spleen and liver of treated mice, without inducing toxicity in healthy tissues. In conclusion, our strategy of selectively ablating CXCR4 positive leukemic cells by administering the T22-DITOX-H6 nanoparticle could be a promising treatment, especially in patients undergoing AML relapse after chemotherapy, in which leukemic cells overexpress CXCR4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2021


  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • CXCR4
  • Diphtheria toxin-based nanoparticle
  • Targeted drug delivery
  • Targeted protein nanoparticle


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