Despite various therapies available to treat cancers, the success rate is still poor in terms of progression free survival and overall survival of the patients. One of the caveats of current therapeutic approaches is the severe cytotoxicity to other organs/tissues which result in poor health and incapability of patients to continue therapy. Specific delivery of the drugs to cancerous cells is thus highly desirable. Targeted therapy using nanoparticles has already reached clinic. A classic example is Abraxane, a nanoparticle albumin–bound paclitaxel or nab-paclitaxel which is an injectable formulation of paclitaxel used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Other types of drug delivery vehicles are also in pipeline to carry the drugs for cancer therapy. These drug delivery vehicles are quantum dots (QDs), silica, micelle, graphene oxide, etc. If we load the drug on any vehicle, the vehicle gets deactivated by the physiological environment or surrounding tissues. Their hydrophobicity and large size also affect the efficiency. Due to these reasons, they do not reach to the target site and do not pass through the kidneys and blocks them. So, there is an unmet requirement to develop a favourable drug delivery system for targeted delivery of drugs to the cancerous area.
To overcome the drawbacks of the currently available therapies, we need a drug delivery vehicle which is hydrophilic in nature. It should properties such as several functional groups for drug loading, small in size, low cytotoxicity etc. Towards this goal, we are proposing to develop peptide-linked Graphene Quantum Dot (GQD) particles which will be capable of targeted delivery of drugs (Doxorubicin) to drug resistant ovarian cancer cells/tissues. GQDs are small ~5nm in size, hydrophilic in nature, have large number of oxygen rich functional groups and show very low cytotoxicity. These features make them a promising candidate for drug delivery.
The figure is the schematic illustration of electrochemical exfoliation of defect-induced graphite rod. Intercalation of OH- ions, O2 production and exfoliation process result in the production of graphene quantum dots. The primary motivation of the project is to develop graphene-based carriers (which provide a large surface area) and load the peptide and the drug (preferably Doxorubicin) on it. This would preferentially deliver a larger concentration of the drug specifically to the resistant ovarian cancer cells compared to sensitive OC cells. The specific objectives if this project include, synthesis of GQDs and conjugation of GQDS with Doxorubicin and Peptide.