Polypeptide-based nanogels co-encapsulating a synergistic combination of doxorubicin with 17-AAG show potent anti-tumor activity in ErbB2-driven breast cancer models

Swapnil S. Desale, Srikumar M. Raja, Jong Oh Kim, Bhopal Mohapatra, Kruti S. Soni, Haitao Luan, Stetson H. Williams, Timothy A. Bielecki, Dan Feng, Matthew Storck, Vimla Band, Samuel M. Cohen, Hamid Band, Tatiana K. Bronich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


ErbB2-driven breast cancers constitute 20-25% of the cases diagnosed within the USA. The humanized anti-ErbB2 monoclonal antibody, Trastuzumab (Herceptin™; Genentech), with chemotherapy is the current standard of treatment. Novel agents and strategies continue to be explored, given the challenges posed by Trastuzumab-resistance development in most patients. The HSP90 inhibitor, 17-allylaminodemethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), which induces ErbB2 degradation and attenuates downstream oncogenic signaling, is one such agent that showed significant promise in early phase I and II clinical trials. Its low water solubility, potential toxicities and undesirable side effects observed in patients, partly due to the Cremophor-based formulation, have been discouraging factors in the advancement of this promising drug into clinical use. Encapsulation of 17-AAG into polymeric nanoparticle formulations, particularly in synergistic combination with conventional chemotherapeutics, represents an alternative approach to overcome these problems. Herein, we report an efficient co-encapsulation of 17-AAG and doxorubicin, a clinically well-established and effective modality in breast cancer treatment, into biodegradable and biocompatible polypeptide-based nanogels. Dual drug-loaded nanogels displayed potent cytotoxicity in a breast cancer cell panel and exerted selective synergistic anticancer activity against ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines. Analysis of ErbB2 degradation confirmed efficient 17-AAG release from nanogels with activity comparable to free 17-AAG. Furthermore, nanogels containing both 17-AAG and doxorubicin exhibited superior antitumor efficacy in vivo in an ErbB2-driven xenograft model compared to the combination of free drugs. These studies demonstrate that polypeptide-based nanogels can serve as novel nanocarriers for encapsulating 17-AAG along with other chemotherapeutics, providing an opportunity to overcome solubility issues and thereby exploit its full potential as an anti-cancer agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Jun 28 2015


  • Block copolymers
  • Breast cancer
  • Doxorubicin
  • Drug combinations
  • ErbB2
  • HSP90 17-AAG
  • Her2/Neu
  • Nanogels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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