To improve the efficacy of drug delivery, active targeted nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems are gaining considerable attention as they have the potential to reduce side effects, minimize toxicity, and improve efficacy of anticancer treatment. In this work CUR-NPs (curcumin-loaded lipid-polymer-lecithin hybrid nanoparticles) were synthesized and functionalized with ribonucleic acid (RNA) Aptamers (Apts) against epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) for targeted delivery to colorectal adenocarcinoma cells. These CUR-encapsulated bioconjugates (Apt-CUR-NPs) were characterized for particle size, zeta potential, drug encapsulation, stability, and release. The in vitro specific cell binding, cellular uptake, and cytotoxicity of Apt-CUR-NPs were also studied. The Apt-CUR-NP bioconjugates exhibited increased binding to HT29 colon cancer cells and enhancement in cellular uptake when compared to CUR-NPs functionalized with a control Apt (P<0.01). Furthermore, a substantial improvement in cytotoxicity was achieved toward HT29 cells with Apt-CUR-NP bioconjugates. The encapsulation of CUR in Apt-CUR-NPs resulted in the increased bioavailability of delivered CUR over a period of 24 hours compared to that of free CUR in vivo. These results show that the EpCAM Apt-functionalized CUR-NPs enhance the targeting and drug delivery of CUR to colorectal cancer cells. Further development of CUR-encapsulated, nanosized carriers will lead to improved targeted delivery of novel chemotherapeutic agents to colorectal cancer cells.
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