KE108-conjugated unimolecular micelles loaded with a novel HDAC inhibitor thailandepsin-A for targeted neuroendocrine cancer therapy

Guojun Chen, Renata Jaskula-Sztul, April Harrison, Ajitha Dammalapati, Wenjin Xu, Yiqiang Cheng, Herbert Chen, Shaoqin Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Neuroendocrine (NE) cancers can cause significant patient morbidity. Besides surgery, there are no curative treatments for NE cancers and their metastases, emphasizing the need for the development of other forms of therapy. In this study, multifunctional unimolecular micelles were developed for targeted NE cancer therapy. The unimolecular micelles were formed by multi-arm star amphiphilic block copolymer poly(amidoamine)-poly(valerolactone)-poly(ethylene glycol) conjugated with KE108 peptide and Cy5 dye (abbreviated as PAMAM-PVL-PEG-KE108/Cy5). The unimolecular micelles with a spherical core-shell structure exhibited a uniform size distribution and excellent stability. The hydrophobic drug thailandepsin-A (TDP-A), a recently discovered HDAC inhibitor, was physically encapsulated into the hydrophobic core of the micelles. KE108 peptide, a somatostatin analog possessing high affinity for all five subtypes of somatostatin receptors (SSTR 1-5), commonly overexpressed in NE cancer cells, was used for the first time as an NE cancer targeting ligand. KE108 exhibited superior targeting abilities compared to other common somatostatin analogs, such as octreotide, in NE cancer cell lines. The in vitro assays demonstrated that the TDP-A-loaded, KE108-targeted micelles exhibited the best capabilities in suppressing NE cancer cell growth. Moreover, the in vivo near-infrared fluorescence imaging on NE-tumor-bearing nude mice showed that KE108-conjugated micelles exhibited the greatest tumor accumulation due to their passive targeting and active targeting capabilities. Finally, TDP-A-loaded and KE108-conjugated micelles possessed the best anticancer efficacy without detectable systemic toxicity. Thus, these novel TDP-A-loaded and KE108-conjugated unimolecular micelles offer a promising approach for targeted NE cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • HDAC inhibitor
  • KE108 peptide
  • Neuroendocrine cancers
  • Somatostatin receptor
  • Targeted drug delivery
  • Unimolecular micelles


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