Tumor-homing peptides as tools for targeted delivery of payloads to the placenta

Anna King, Cornelia Ndifon, Sylvia Lui, Kate Widdows, Venkata R. Kotamraju, Lilach Agemy, Tambet Teesalu, Jocelyn Glazier, Francesco Cellesi, Nicola Tirelli, John Aplin, Erkki Ruoslahti, Lynda Harris

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    The availability of therapeutics to treat pregnancy complications is severely lacking mainly because of the risk of causing harm to the fetus. As enhancement of placental growth and function can alleviate maternal symptoms and improve fetal growth in animal models, we have developed a method for targeted delivery of payloads to the placenta. We show that the tumor-homing peptide sequences CGKRK and iRGD bind selectively to the placental surface of humans and mice and do not interfere with normal development. Peptide-coated nanoparticles intravenously injected into pregnant mice accumulated within the mouse placenta, whereas control nanoparticles exhibited reduced binding and/or fetal transfer. We used targeted liposomes to efficiently deliver cargoes of carboxyfluorescein and insulin-like growth factor 2 to the mouse placenta; the latter significantly increased mean placental weight when administered to healthy animals and significantly improved fetal weight distribution in a well-characterized model of fetal growth restriction. These data provide proof of principle for targeted delivery of drugs to the placenta and provide a novel platform for the development of placenta-specific therapeutics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1600349
    JournalScience Advances
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016


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