Squalenoylation of gemcitabine, a front-line therapy for pancreatic cancer, allows for improved cellular-level and system-wide drug delivery. The established methods to conjugate squalene to gemcitabine and to form nanoparticles (NPs) with the squalenoylated gemcitabine (SqGem) conjugate are cumbersome, time-consuming and can be difficult to reliably replicate. Further, the creation of multi-functional SqGem-based NP theranostics would facilitate characterization of in vivo pharmacokinetics and efficacy. Methods: Squalenoylation conjugation chemistry was enhanced to improve reliability and scalability using tert-butyldimethylsilyl (TBDMS) protecting groups. We then optimized a scalable microfluidic mixing platform to produce SqGem-based NPs and evaluated the stability and morphology of select NP formulations using dynamic light scattering (DLS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Cytotoxicity was evaluated in both PANC-1 and KPC (KrasLSL-G12D/+; Trp53LSL-R172H/+; Pdx-Cre) pancreatic cancer cell lines. A 64Cu chelator (2-S-(4-aminobenzyl)-1,4,7-triazacyclononane-1,4,7-triacetic acid, NOTA) was squalenoylated and used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to monitor the in vivo fate of SqGem-based NPs. Results: Squalenoylation yields of gemcitabine increased from 15% to 63%. Cholesterol-PEG-2k inclusion was required to form SqGem-based NPs using our technique, and additional cholesterol inclusion increased particle stability at room temperature; after 1 week the PDI of SqGem NPs with cholesterol was ~ 0.2 while the PDI of SqGem NPs lacking cholesterol was ~ 0.5. Similar or superior cytotoxicity was achieved for SqGem-based NPs compared to gemcitabine or Abraxane® when evaluated at a concentration of 10 µM. Squalenoylation of NOTA enabled in vivo monitoring of SqGem-based NP pharmacokinetics and biodistribution. Conclusion: We present a scalable technique for fabricating efficacious squalenoylated-gemcitabine nanoparticles and confirm their pharmacokinetic profile using a novel multifunctional 64Cu-SqNOTA-SqGem NP.
- Pancreatic cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Biomedical Engineering
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)