Repurposing of Guanabenz Acetate by Encapsulation into Long-Circulating Nanopolymersomes for Treatment of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Yusuf A. Haggag, Mohamed Yasser, Murtaza M Tambuwala, Suleiman S. El Tokhy, Mohammed Isreb, Ahmed A. Donia

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Poor patient response and limited treatment modalities are the major challenges against combating triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). The high related mortality urges for novel cancer therapeutics. Guanabenz acetate (GA) is an orphan antihypertensive drug with a short half-life. Re-purposing (GA) by developing a polymersome (PS)-based cancer nanomedicine is an innovative approach in treating TNBC. Formulation and optimization of GA-loaded PEGylated Polycaprolactone PS through different process variables (solvent selection, the order of addition, pH of the aqueous phase, and drug to polymer ratio) were achieved by the nanoprecipitation method. The in vitro cellular uptake, anti-cancer, and anti-metastatic activity of GA and GA-loaded PS were tested in MDA-MB 231(TNBC cell line) and MCF-7 cell line. Western blot analysis was performed to elucidate the molecular anti-cancer mechanism. The in vivo biodistribution study and antitumor activity were investigated in the TNBC-xenograft model implanted in mice. Under optimized formulation conditions, GA-loaded PS had a nanosize of 90.5 nm with PDI < 0.2, a zeta potential -9.11 mV, drug encapsulation efficiency of 92.11% and sustained drug release for 6-days. GA-loaded PS exhibited enhanced cellular uptake and achieved a significantly lower IC50 in both breast cancer cell lines compared to free GA. Treatment with GA-loaded PS (60µM) showed a significant reduction of 60.5 and 78.1 % in cancer migration and metastasis in the case of MDA-MB 231 and MCF-7, respectively. Besides, drug-loaded PS increased phosphorylation of translational regulator eIF2α and decreased expression of Rac1 which were essential for decreasing cancer cell survival and metastasis. In vivo biodistribution study of GA-loaded PS showed long-circulating PS with high passively targeted tumor accumulation. Treatment with GA-loaded PS resulted in a significant decrease in tumor size and weight compared to free GA. In conclusion, GA-loaded PS is a new promising cancer therapeutics for the treatment of TNBC.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120532
Number of pages53
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Early online date27 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Anti-cancer activity
  • Biodistribution
  • Guanabenz acetate
  • Nanoprecipitation
  • Polymersomes
  • Process variables
  • Repurposing
  • Triple-negative breast cancer


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