Implantable hydrogel embedded dark-gold nanoswitch as a theranostic probe to sense and overcome cancer multidrug resistance

João Conde, Nuria Oliva, Natalie Artzi

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells is a substantial limitation to the success of chemotherapy. Here, we describe facile means to overcome resistance by silencing the multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP1), before chemotherapeutic drug delivery in vivo with a single local application. Our platform contains hydrogel embedded with dark-gold nanoparticles modified with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-intercalated nanobeacons that serve as an ON/OFF molecular nanoswitch triggered by the increased MRP1 expression within the tumor tissue microenvironment. This nanoswitch can sense and overcome MDR prior to local drug release. The nanobeacons comprise a 5-FU intercalated DNA hairpin, which is labeled with a near-infrared (NIR) dye and a dark-quencher. The nanobeacons are designed to open and release the intercalated drug only upon hybridization of the DNA hairpin to a complementary target, an event that restores fluorescence emission due to nanobeacons conformational reorganization. Despite the cross-resistance to 5-FU, more than 90% tumor reduction is achieved in vivo in a triple-negative breast cancer model following 80% MRP1 silencing compared with the continuous tumor growth following only drug or nanobeacon administration. Our approach can be applied to reverse cross-resistance to other chemotherapeutic drugs and restore treatment efficacy. As a universal nanotheranostic probe, this platform can pave the way to early cancer detection and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1278-E1287
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Gold nanobeacons
  • Hydrogels
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Theranostics


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