Nucleic acid therapeutics

Tumor cell-targeted delivery of nanoconjugated oligonucleotides in composite spheroids.

PMID 25238564


Standard tissue culture has often been a poor model for predicting the efficacy of anti-cancer agents including oligonucleotides. In contrast to the simplicity of monolayer tissue cultures, a tumor mass includes tightly packed tumor cells, tortuous blood vessels, high levels of extracellular matrix, and stromal cells that support the tumor. These complexities pose a challenge for delivering therapeutic agents throughout the tumor, with many drugs limited to cells proximal to the vasculature. Multicellular tumor spheroids are superior to traditional monolayer cell culture for the assessment of cancer drug delivery, since they possess many of the characteristics of metastatic tumor foci. However, homogeneous spheroids comprised solely of tumor cells do not account for some of the key aspects of metastatic tumors, particularly the interaction with host cells such as fibroblasts. Further, homogeneous culture does not allow for the assessment of targeted delivery to tumor versus host cells. Here we have evaluated delivery of targeted and untargeted oligonucleotide nanoconjugates and of oligonucleotide polyplexes in both homogeneous and composite tumor spheroids. We find that inclusion of fibroblasts in the spheroids reduces delivery efficacy of the polyplexes. In contrast, targeted multivalent RGD-oligonucleotide nanoconjugates were able to effectively discriminate between melanoma cells and fibroblasts, thus providing tumor-selective uptake and pharmacological effects.