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Development of CD133 Targeting Multi-Drug Polymer Micellar Nanoparticles for Glioblastoma - In Vitro Evaluation in Glioblastoma Stem Cells



Glioblastoma (GBM) is a malignant brain tumor with a poor long-term prognosis due to recurrence from highly resistant GBM cancer stem cells (CSCs), for which the current standard of treatment with temozolomide (TMZ) alone will unlikely produce a viable cure. In addition, CSCs regenerate rapidly and overexpress methyl transferase which overrides the DNA-alkylating mechanism of TMZ, leading to resistance. The objective of this research was to apply the concepts of nanotechnology to develop a multi-drug therapy, TMZ and idasanutlin (RG7388, a potent mouse double minute 2 (MDM2) antagonist), loaded in functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) that target the GBM CSC subpopulation, reduce the cell viability and provide possibility of in vivo preclinical imaging.


Polymer-micellar NPs composed of poly(styrene-b-ethylene oxide) (PS-b-PEO) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) were developed by a double emulsion technique loading TMZ and/or RG7388. The NPs were covalently bound to a 15-nucleotide base-pair CD133 aptamer to target the CD133 antigen expressed on the surfaces of GBM CSCs. For diagnostic functionality, the NPs were labelled with radiotracer Zirconium-89 (89Zr).


NPs maintained size range less than 100 nm, a low negative charge and exhibited the ability to target and kill the CSC subpopulation when TMZ and RG7388 were used in combination. The targeting function of CD133 aptamer promoted killing in GBM CSCs providing impetus for further development of targeted nanosystems for localized therapy in future in vivo models.


This work has provided a potential clinical application for targeting GBM CSCs with simultaneous diagnostic imaging.

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Data Availability






Blood brain barrier




DNA damage response


Deferoxamine mesylate


Electrophoretic mobility shift assay


Fluorescein amidite


Glioblastoma multiforme


Mouse double minute 2




Poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid


Poly(styrene-b-ethylene oxide)




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The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Daniel Minner of IUPUI Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute, Dr. Anne Shanahan of IUPUI Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Ms. Caroline Miller of IU School of Medicine Electron Microscopy Core, and Ms. Barbara Bailey of the IU Simon Cancer Center In Vivo Therapeutics Core.


This publication was made possible by an award from the Indiana University School of Medicine (Indiana University School of Medicine Biomedical Research Grant). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

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A part of this research constitute the MS thesis of SBS. The PI of the research project is MCV. All coauthors participated in intellectual contribution.

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Correspondence to Michael C. Veronesi.

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Smiley, S.B., Yun, Y., Ayyagari, P. et al. Development of CD133 Targeting Multi-Drug Polymer Micellar Nanoparticles for Glioblastoma - In Vitro Evaluation in Glioblastoma Stem Cells. Pharm Res 38, 1067–1079 (2021).

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  • glioblastoma
  • nanoparticles
  • conjugation
  • anti-CD133 aptamer
  • Zirconium-89