Nanotechnology-augmented sonodynamic therapy and associated immune-mediated effects for the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Marym Mohammad Hadi, Sian Farrell, Heather Nesbitt, Keith Thomas, Ilona Kubajewska, Alex Ng, Hamzah Masood, Shiv Patel, Fabiola Sciscione, Brian Davidson, John F Callan, Alexander J MacRobert, Anthony P McHale, Nikolitsa Nomikou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: Sonodynamic therapy (SDT) is emerging as a cancer treatment alternative with significant advantages over conventional therapies, including its minimally invasive and site-specific nature, its radical antitumour efficacy with minimal side effects, and its capacity to raise an antitumour immune response. The study explores the efficacy of SDT in combination with nanotechnology against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Methods: A nanoparticulate formulation (HPNP) based on a cathepsin B-degradable glutamate-tyrosine co-polymer that carries hematoporphyrin was used in this study for the SDT-based treatment of PDAC. Cathepsin B levels in BxPC-3 and PANC-1 cells were correlated to cellular uptake of HPNP. The HPNP efficiency to induce a sonodynamic effect at varying ultrasound parameters, and at different oxygenation and pH conditions, was investigated. The biodistribution, tumour accumulation profile, and antitumour efficacy of HPNP in SDT were examined in immunocompetent mice carrying bilateral ectopic murine pancreatic tumours. The immune response profile of excised tumour tissues was also examined. Results: The HPNP formulation significantly improved cellular uptake of hematoporphyrin for both BxPC-3 and PANC-1 cells, while increase of cellular uptake was positively correlated in PANC-1 cells. There was a clear SDT-induced cytotoxicity at the ultrasound conditions tested, and the treatment impaired the capacity of both BxPC-3 and PANC-1 cells to form colonies. The overall acoustic energy and pulse length, rather than the power density, were key in eliciting the effects observed in vitro. The SDT treatment in combination with HPNP resulted in 21% and 27% reduction of the target and off-target tumour volumes, respectively, within 24 h. A single SDT treatment elicited an antitumour effect that was characterized by an SDT-induced decrease in immunosuppressive T cell phenotypes. Conclusion: SDT has significant potential to serve as a monotherapy or adjunctive treatment for inoperable or borderline resectable PDAC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5007-5023
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of cancer research and clinical oncology
Issue number8
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 2 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK (Grant Refs: EP/P020828/1 and EP/R513143/1) and the UCL Therapeutic Acceleration Support fund (sponsored by MRC/Wellcome Trust/UCLH, GOSH, and Moorfields BRC).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Hematoporphyrin
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cathepsin B
  • Anticancer immune response
  • Sonodynamic therapy
  • Nanoparticles


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