PEGylated silk nanoparticles for anticancer drug delivery

Wongpinyochit, Thidarat and Uhlmann, Petra and Urquhart, Andrew J. and Seib, F. Philipp (2015) PEGylated silk nanoparticles for anticancer drug delivery. Biomacromolecules, 16 (11). pp. 3712-3722. ISSN 1525-7797 (

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Silk has a robust clinical track record and is emerging as a promising biopolymer for drug delivery, including its use as nanomedicine. However, silk-based nanomedicines still require further refinements for full exploitation of their potential; the application of "stealth" design principals is especially necessary to support their evolution. The aim of this study was to develop and examine the potential of PEGylated silk nanoparticles as an anticancer drug delivery system. We first generated B. mori derived silk nanoparticles by driving β-sheet assembly (size 104 ± 1.7 nm, zeta potential -56 ± 5.6 mV) using nanoprecipitation. We then surface grafted polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the fabricated silk nanoparticles and verified the aqueous stability and morphology of the resulting PEGylated silk nanoparticles. We assessed the drug loading and release behavior of these nanoparticles using clinically established and emerging anticancer drugs. Overall, PEGylated silk nanoparticles showed high encapsulation efficiency (>93%) and a pH-dependent release over 14 days. Finally, we demonstrated significant cytotoxicity of drug loaded silk nanoparticles applied as single and combination nanomedicines to human breast cancer cells. In conclusion, these results, taken together with prior silk nanoparticle data, support a viable future for silk-based nanomedicines.