Colon cancer is one of the major causes of death in the Western world. Early detection significantly improves long-term survival for patients with colon cancer. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent nanoparticles are promising candidates for use as contrast agents for tumor detection. Using NIR offers several advantages for bioimaging compared with fluorescence in the visible spectrum: lower autofluorescence of biological tissues and lower absorbance and, consequently, deeper penetration into biomatrices. The present study describes the preparation of new NIR fluorescent proteinoid-poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) nanoparticles. For this purpose, a P(EF-PLLA) random copolymer was prepared by thermal copolymerization of L-glutamic acid (E) with L-phenylalanine (F) and PLLA. Under suitable conditions, this proteinoid-PLLA copolymer can self-assemble to nanosized hollow particles of relatively narrow size distribution. This self-assembly process was used for encapsulation of the NIR dye indocyanine green. The encapsulation process increases significantly the photostability of the dye. These NIR fluorescent nanoparticles were found to be stable and nontoxic. Leakage of the NIR dye from these nanoparticles into phosphate-buffered saline containing 4% human serum albumin was not detected. Tumor-targeting ligands such as peanut agglutinin and anticarcinoembryonic antigen antibodies were covalently conjugated to the surface of the NIR fluorescent P(EF-PLLA) nanoparticles, thereby increasing the fluorescent signal of tumors with upregulated corresponding receptors. Specific colon tumor detection by the NIR fluorescent P(EF-PLLA) nanoparticles was demonstrated in a chicken embryo model. In future work, we plan to extend this study to a mouse model, as well as to encapsulate a cancer drug such as doxorubicin within these nanoparticles for therapeutic applications.
Kolitz-Domb, M., Corem-Salkmon, E., Grinberg, I., & Margel, S. (2014). Synthesis and characterization of bioactive conjugated near-infrared fluorescent proteinoidpoly(L-lactic acid) hollow nanoparticles for optical detection of colon cancer. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 9(1), 5041–5053. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S68582