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Keywords:

  • theranostic nanohybrids;
  • tumor cell imaging;
  • tumor-induced drug release;
  • gene/drug co-delivery

Graphene oxide (GO)-based theranostic nanohybrid is designed for tumor induced imaging and potential combinational tumor therapy. The anti-tumor drug, Doxorubicin (DOX) is chemically conjugated to the poly(ethylenimine)-co-poly(ethylene glycol) (PEI-PEG) grafted GO via a MMP2-cleavable PLGLAG peptide linkage. The therapeutic efficacy of DOX is chemically locked and its intrinsic fluorescence is quenched by GO under normal physiological condition. Once stimulated by the MMP2 enzyme over-expressed in tumor tissues, the resulting peptide cleavage permits the unloading of DOX for tumor therapy and concurrent fluorescence recovery of DOX for in situ tumor cell imaging. Attractively, this PEI-bearing nanohybrid can mediate efficient DNA transfection and shows great potential for combinational drug/gene therapy. This tumor induced imaging and potential combinational therapy will open a window for tumor treatment by offering a unique theranostic approach through merging the diagnostic capability and pathology-responsive therapeutic function.