Nanomedicines are defined as engineered nanosized drugs and drug delivery systems comprising of multiple components. Some of the new polymer-drug conjugates and drug-protein conjugates showed promising results in the treatment of different diseases including cancer. The goal of the NANOTRAC proposal was to develop functionalised biopolymer-based nanoparticles for efficient targeting and subsequent biological evaluation of their trafficking. Silk has been traditionally used as a suture material with excellent mechanical properties and biocompatibility. The team utilised these properties to develop different silk-based formats for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Researchers successfully developed silk nanoparticles of uniform size and charge and loaded them with anticancer agents. Produced nanomedicines were subjected to surface modification with polyethylene glycol to allow their further evolution. These silk nanoparticles served as an anticancer drug delivery system with confirmed pH-dependent drug release. Single cell microscopy analysis proved the ability of drug-loaded silk nanoparticles to act as anticancer nanomedicines via lysosomal traffic. Researchers also examined the impact of these silk nanoparticles on cellular metabolomics and hypoxia, a key factor of the tumour microenvironment. As a final step, they have isolated lysosomes by gradient centrifugation and analysed the biodegradation of silk nanoparticles. The NANOTRAC team demonstrated an integrated approach for the development of next-generation nanomedicines. It provided the drug delivery field with a novel nanoparticle system as well as a toolbox for tracing nanomedicines in the organism during treatment.
Nanomedicine, cancer targeting, NANOTRAC, silk nanoparticles, pH-dependent drug release