Biocompatible ELR-Based Polyplexes Coated with MUC1 Specific Aptamers and Targeted for Breast Cancer Gene Therapy

The search for new and biocompatible materials with high potential for improvement is a challenge in gene delivery applications. A cell type specific vector made of elastin-like recombinamer (ELR) and aptamers has been specifically designed for the intracellular delivery of therapeutic material for breast cancer therapy. A lysine-enriched ELR was constructed and complexed with plasmid DNA to give positively charged and stable polyplexes. Physical characterization of these polyplexes showed a particle size of around 140 nm and a zeta potential of approximately +40 mV. The incorporation of MUC1-specific aptamers into the polyplexes resulted in a slight decrease in zeta potential but increased cell transfection specificity for MCF-7 breast cancer cells with respect to a MUC1-negative tumor line. After showing the transfection ability of this aptamer-ELR vector which is facilitated mainly by macropinocytosis uptake, we demonstrated its application for suicide gene therapy using a plasmid containing the gene of the toxin PAP-S. The strategy developed in this work about using ELR as polymeric vector and aptamers as supplier of specificity to deliver therapeutic material into MUC1-positive breast cancer cells shows promising potential and continues paving the way for ELRs in the biomedical field.