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Single-cell analysis reveals effective siRNA delivery in brain tumors with microbubble-enhanced ultrasound and cationic nanoparticles

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Science Advances  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 18, eabf7390
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf7390


RNA-based therapies offer unique advantages for treating brain tumors. However, tumor penetrance and uptake are hampered by RNA therapeutic size, charge, and need to be “packaged” in large carriers to improve bioavailability. Here, we have examined delivery of siRNA, packaged in 50-nm cationic lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPHs:siRNA), combined with microbubble-enhanced focused ultrasound (MB-FUS) in pediatric and adult preclinical brain tumor models. Using single-cell image analysis, we show that MB-FUS in combination with LPHs:siRNA leads to more than 10-fold improvement in siRNA delivery into brain tumor microenvironments of the two models. MB-FUS delivery of Smoothened (SMO) targeting siRNAs reduces SMO protein production and markedly increases tumor cell death in the SMO-activated medulloblastoma model. Moreover, our analysis reveals that MB-FUS and nanoparticle properties can be optimized to maximize delivery in the brain tumor microenvironment, thereby serving as a platform for developing next-generation tunable delivery systems for RNA-based therapy in brain tumors.

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