Chemotherapy targeting by DNA capture in viral protein particles

Agadjanian H, Chu D, Hwang JY, et al. Chemotherapy targeting by DNA capture in viral protein particles. Nanomedicine (Lond). Mar 2012;7(3):335-352.

AIM: This study tests the hypothesis that DNA intercalation and electrophilic interactions can be exploited to noncovalently assemble doxorubicin in a viral protein nanoparticle designed to target and penetrate tumor cells through ligand-directed delivery. We further test whether this new paradigm of doxorubicin targeting shows therapeutic efficacy and safety in vitro and in vivo.


We tested serum stability, tumor targeting and therapeutic efficacy in vitro and in vivo using biochemical, microscopy and cytotoxicity assays.


Self-assembly formed approximately 10-nm diameter serum-stable nanoparticles that can target and ablate HER2+ tumors at >10× lower dose compared with untargeted doxorubicin, while sparing the heart after intravenous delivery. The targeted nanoparticle tested here allows doxorubicin potency to remain unaltered during assembly, transport and release into target cells,while avoiding peripheral tissue damage and enabling lower, and thus safer, drug dose for tumor killing.


This nanoparticle may be an improved alternative to chemical conjugates and signal-blocking antibodies for tumor-targeted treatment.