Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the deadliest form of breast cancer and its successful treatment critically depends on early diagnosis and therapy. The multicompartment protein p32 is overexpressed and present at cell surfaces in a variety of tumors, including TNBC, specifically in the malignant cells and endothelial cells, and in macrophages localized in hypoxic areas of the tumor. Herein we used polyethylene glycol-polycaprolactone polymersomes that were affinity targeted with the p32-binding tumor penetrating peptide LinTT1 (AKRGARSTA) for imaging of TNBC lesions. A tyrosine residue was added to the peptide to allow for 124I labeling and PET imaging. In a TNBC model in mice, systemic LinTT1-targeted polymersomes accumulated in early tumor lesions more than twice as efficiently as untargeted polymersomes with up to 20% ID/ cc at 24 h after administration. The PET-imaging was very sensitive, allowing detection of tumors as small as ~20 mm3. Confocal imaging of tumor tissue sections revealed a high degree of vascular exit and stromal penetration of LinTT1-targeted polymersomes and co-localization with tumor-associated macrophages. Our studies show that systemic LinTT1-targeted polymersomes can be potentially used for precision-guided tumor imaging and treatment of TNBC.
- Triple negative breast cancer
- Tumor-penetrating peptide