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Rather than relying on uptake of the nanoparticle into the tumor, this invention exploits the weakly acidic (pH ~ 7) microenvironment near a tumor to dissolve a pH-sensitive peptide and release the agent directly at the tumor site. Materials prone to enzymatic attack and poorly water soluble agents can be protected until they reach the target location. The peptide then releases the agent at the tumor location where the pH is ≤ 7.
This formulation provides much greater pH sensitivity than other currently available drug-delivery nanoparticles, which all require a much more acidic transition pH (4-5).
In-vivo tests on mice have demonstrated non-toxicity and effectiveness at slowing tumor growth. Animal subjects treated with the pH-sensitive nanoparticles showed slower tumor growth when compared to control treatment methods, even at 1/10th the control dosage. The particle formulation is highly adaptable, can carry a variety of drugs as well as RNA/DNA, and can be “tuned” to dissolve at a specific pH.