Contribution of the Department in this project is mainly focused on the development of nanocarriers for photo-chemo combination therapy. In this context, the aim is to develop polymeric nanoparticles based on bioeliminable branched cyclodextrins capable of co-encapsulating common chemotherapeutics for hepatocarcinoma, such as Sorafenib and Lenvatinib, with precursors of multitarget cytotoxic species, not affected by drug-resistance and whose release is exclusively controlled by visible light.
The aim is to enhance the activity of chemotherapeutic agents for additive and / or synergistic action with cytotoxic species photogenerated exclusively within the action site and to reduce their dosage, with benefits for the patients. As cytotoxic species the focus is nitric oxide (NO) and heat, issues playing a key role in the emerging fields of photodynamic and photothermal therapy.
These species are produced respectively using nitric oxide photodonators developed in the research group, integrated in a covalent and non-covalent way in the structure of the polymeric nanoparticle, and gold nanostructures (nanoprisms, nanorods, nanoflowers) prepared by single-step synthesis with a totally "green" procedure, starting from pomegranate extracts, having a plasmonic absorption in the so-called "therapeutic window" and high conversion of light into heat.
The structural, photochemical and biological properties of the systems are evaluated in detail thanks to the complete fleet of equipment and skills that the research team possesses.