Telomerase-specific Doxorubicin-releasing Molecular Beacon for Cancer Theranostics

Y. Ma, Z. Wang, Y. Gu
China pharmaceutical university,

Keywords: molecular beacon; nanoparticles; telomerase


A novel molecular beacon-based drug delivery system was designed for both detection of telomerase activity in living cells and telomerase-triggered drug release for precise cancer treatment. This system is composed of a gold nanoparticle core densely packed with FITC labeled hairpin DNA sequences hybridized with telomerase primers. Anticancer drug doxorubicin molecules were intercalated into the stem region of the DNA sequence. The presence of telomerase will elongate the primers, leading to inner chain substitution followed by the release of the FITC fluorescence and the trapped doxorubicin. This molecular beacon could specifically distinguish tumor cells and normal cells by visualization of telomerase activity, precisely release doxorubicin in response to telomerase activity of tumor cells and prevent the toxicity to normal organs. This technology will not only assist in the identification of cancer cells from healthy ones, its ability to intrinsically treat only cancerous cells will prevent the undesired death of healthy cells that is commonly seen using more conventional forms of chemotherapy. These findings will also help to inspire future designs of new drug delivery systems that respond to cancer-specific biomolecules more accurately.