Opto-acoustic synergistic irradiation for vaporization of natural melanin-cored nanodroplets at safe energy levels and efficient sono-chemo-photothermal cancer therapy

Yaxin Hu, Shan Xue, Ting Long, Peizhao Lyu, Xinyu Zhang, Jingqin Chen, Siping Chen, Chengbo Liu, Xin Chen
Rationale: Insufficient penetration and accumulation of theranostic payloads in solid tumors greatly challenge the clinical translation of cancer nanomedicines. To address this challenge, we synthesized natural melanin-cored and doxorubicin-loaded perfluoropentane nanodroplets with good biocompatibility and self-assembling ability. Methods: We used an opto-acoustic synergistic irradiation (OASI) method that was effective at lower energy levels than ultrasound- or laser-only irradiation to safely vaporize the nanodroplets and to cavitate the generated microbubbles for mechanically enhancing intratumoral delivery. The delivered melanin and doxorubicin inside the tumors mediated secondary chemo-photothermal therapy under laser irradiation to fully kill cancer cells. Results: In vivo animal experiments demonstrated direct mechanical disruption of tumor structures (H&E staining), enhanced intratumoral penetration of melanin (photoacoustic imaging), and efficient intratumoral accumulation of doxorubicin (fluorescent imaging). Anti-tumor experiments demonstrated that the nanodroplets combined with OASI treatment and subsequent laser irradiation could efficiently eliminate melanoma tumors. Conclusion: Melanin-cored and doxorubicin-loaded perfluoropentane nanodroplets hold great promise for translational sono-chemo-photothermal cancer therapy.

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