Carbon nanotube-based drug delivery holds great promise for cancer therapy. Herein we report the first targeted, in vivo killing of cancer cells using a drug-single wall carbon nanotube (SWNT) bioconjugate, and demonstrate efficacy superior to non-targeted bioconjugates. First line anti-cancer agent cisplatin and epidermal growth factor (EGF) were attached to SWNTs to specifically target squamous cancer, and the non-targeted control was SWNT-cisplatin without EGF. Initialin vitro imaging studies with head and neck squamous carcinoma cells (HNSCC) overexpressing EGF receptors (EGFR) using Qdot luminescence and confocal microscopy showed that SWNT-Qdot-EGF bioconjugates internalized rapidly into the cancer cells. Limited uptake occurred for control cells without EGF, and uptake was blocked by siRNA knockdown of EGFR in cancer cells, revealing the importance of EGFEGFR binding. Three color, two-photon intra-vital video imagingin vivo showed that SWNT-Qdot-EGF injected into live mice was selectively taken up by HNSCC tumors, but SWNT-Qdot controls with no EGF were cleared from the tumor region in <20 min. HNSCC cells treated with SWNT-cisplatin-EGF were also killed selectively, while control systems that did not feature EGF-EGFR binding did not influence cell proliferation. Most significantly, regression of tumor growth was rapid in mice treated with targeted SWNT-cisplatin-EGF relative to non-targeted SWNT-cisplatin.
Keywords: Oral cancer, nanomedicine, intravital video imaging, carbon nanotubes, EGFR, EGF, quantum dots, Cisplatin