Multifunctional drug-loaded polymer-metal nanocapsules have attracted increasing attention in drug delivery due to their multifunctional potential endowed by drug activity and response to physicochemical stimuli. Current chemical synthesis methods of polymer/metal capsules require specific optimization of the different components to produce particles with precise properties, being particularly complex for Janus structures combining polymers and ferromagnetic and highly reactive metals. With the aim to generate tunable synergistic nanotherapeutic actuation with enhanced drug effects, here we demonstrate a versatile hybrid chemical/physical fabrication strategy to incorporate different functional metals with tailored magnetic, optical, or chemical properties on solid drug-loaded polymer nanoparticles. As archetypical examples, we present poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles (diameters 100-150 nm) loaded with paclitaxel, indocyanine green, or erythromycin that are half-capped by either Fe, Au, or Cu layers, respectively, with application in three biomedical models. The Fe coating on paclitaxel-loaded nanocapsules permitted efficient magnetic enhancement of the cancer spheroid assembly, with 40% reduction of the cross-section area after 24 h, as well as a higher paclitaxel effect. In addition, the Fe-PLGA nanocapsules enabled external contactless manipulation of multicellular cancer spheroids with a speed of 150 μm/s. The Au-coated and indocyanine green-loaded nanocapsules demonstrated theranostic potential and enhanced anticancer activity in vitro and in vivo due to noninvasive fluorescence imaging with long penetration near-infrared (NIR) light and simultaneous photothermal-photodynamic actuation, showing a 3.5-fold reduction in the tumor volume growth with only 5 min of NIR illumination. Finally, the Cu-coated erythromycin-loaded nanocapsules exhibited enhanced antibacterial activity with a 2.5-fold reduction in the MIC50 concentration with respect to the free or encapsulated drug. Altogether, this technology can extend a nearly unlimited combination of metals, polymers, and drugs, thus enabling the integration of magnetic, optical, and electrochemical properties in drug-loaded nanoparticles to externally control and improve a wide range of biomedical applications.
- drug delivery
- Janus metal−polymer nanocapsules
- multifunctional nanocapsules