Targeted drug delivery using genetically engineered diatom biosilica

Bahman Delalat, Vonda Shepperd, Soraya Ghaemi, Shasha Rao, Clive Prestidge, Gordon McPhee, Mary-Louise Rogers, Jacqueline Donoghue, Vino Pillay, Terrance Johns, Nils Kroger, Nicholas Voelcker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    182 Citations (Scopus)


    The ability to selectively kill cancerous cell populations while leaving healthy cells unaffected is a key goal in anticancer therapeutics. The use of nanoporous silica-based materials as drug-delivery vehicles has recently proven successful, yet production of these materials requires costly and toxic chemicals. Here we use diatom microalgae-derived nanoporous biosilica to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to cancer cells. The diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana is genetically engineered to display an IgG-binding domain of protein G on the biosilica surface, enabling attachment of cell-targeting antibodies. Neuroblastoma and B-lymphoma cells are selectively targeted and killed by biosilica displaying specific antibodies sorbed with drug-loaded nanoparticles. Treatment with the same biosilica leads to tumour growth regression in a subcutaneous mouse xenograft model of neuroblastoma. These data indicate that genetically engineered biosilica frustules may be used as versatile 'backpacks' for the targeted delivery of poorly water-soluble anticancer drugs to tumour sites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8791
    Number of pages11
    JournalNature Communications
    Issue number8791
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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