Research ArticleHEALTH AND MEDICINE

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

Science Advances  06 May 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 5, e1600349
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600349

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Abstract

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.

Keywords
  • Placenta
  • trophoblast
  • Pregnancy
  • targeted delivery
  • homing peptide
  • liposome
  • drug delivery
  • IGF-II
  • fetal growth restriction

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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