SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs), that are capable of delivering gene and drugs to organisms in an effective and selective way have attracted much attention lately for its potential in the treatment of cancer. However, the successful application of MSNs for delivery of plasmid DNA or drugs requires surface modification of the silica with positively charged functional groups so that it binds to the negatively charged nucleic acids and also helps it penetrate through the cell membrane. We report for the first time the synthesis of a hybrid MSN where the cell penetrating cationic polypeptide poly-L-arginine synthesized by NCA polymerization is grafted onto the external surface of MSN using click chemistry. These poly-L-arginine grafted MSNs show low cytotoxity (85% cell viability at 100 μg/mL MSN concentration) and high cellular uptake by both HeLa and A549 (>90%). The poly-L-arginine grafted MSNs were used effectively to deliver mCherry DNA plasmid into cells leading to expression of the protein mCherry inside the cells (transfection efficiency 60%). In contrast, poly-L-arginine grafted non-porous silica nanoparticles were unable to express the protein mCherry inside the cells although their uptake into the cells was as efficient as with poly-L-arginine grafted MSNs. We also show preliminary results to demonstrate that these hybrid MSNs can be used as a delivery vehicle for the anticancer drug Doxorubicin towards cancerous cells HeLa and A549. The biocompatibility of poly-L-arginine and its cell penetrating ability are expected to make these MSN conjugates very useful carriers for the delivery of genes and drugs into cancer cells.