Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E1, Canada. Electronic address:
Nanoparticle platforms are particularly attractive for theranostic applications due to their capacity for multifunctionality and multivalency. Some of the most promising nano-scale scaffold systems have been co-opted from nature including plant viruses such as cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV). The use of plant viruses like CPMV as viral nanoparticles is advantageous for many reasons; they are non-infectious and nontoxic to humans and safe for use in intravital imaging and drug delivery. The CPMV capsid icosahedral shape allows for enhanced multifunctional group display and the ability to carry specific cargoes. The native tropism of CPMV for cell-surface displayed vimentin and the enhanced permeability and retention effect allow them to preferentially extravasate from tumor neovasculature and efficiently penetrate tumors. Furthermore, CPMVs can be engineered via several straightforward chemistries to display targeting and imaging moieties on external, addressable residues and they can be loaded internally with therapeutic drug cargoes. These qualities make them highly effective as biocompatible platforms for tumor targeting, intravital imaging and cancer therapy.
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