NTx’s Drs. Jayesh Kulkarni & Pieter Cullis publish in Langmuir

Jun 17, 2022

Synthesis and Characterization of Hybrid Lipid Nanoparticles Containing Gold Nanoparticles and a Weak Base Drug

Zhigaltsev et al. 16 June 2022

Co-authored by NanoVation’s Drs Jayesh Kulkarni & Pieter Cullis.


Hybrid lipid nanoparticles containing gold nanoparticles (LNP-GNPs) and drugs have potential for imaging applications as well as triggered release of LNP contents in response to pulsed laser or X-ray radiation mediated by the GNPs. However, methods to synthesize LNP-GNP systems that efficiently entrap GNPs (the potential triggered release and imaging agent) and then load and retain the drug cargo in a manner that may have clinical applications have proven elusive.

Here, we develop a straightforward “bottom-up” approach to manufacture drug-loaded LNP-GNP systems. We show that negatively charged GNPs of 5 nm diameter can be stably loaded into LNPs containing 10 mol % ionizable cationic lipid using an ethanol dilution, rapid mixing approach and that these systems also exhibit aqueous compartments.

Further, we show that such systems can also entrap ammonium sulfate, enabling pH-dependent loading of the weak base anti-cancer drug doxorubicin into the aqueous compartments. Cryo-transmission electron microscopy (Cryo-TEM) imaging clearly demonstrates the presence of GNPs in the interior of the resulting hybrid nanostructures as well as the formation of electron-dense drug precipitates in the aqueous core of the LNP-GNPs.

The approach described here is a robust and straightforward method to generate hybrid LNP-GNP-drug and other LNP-metal nanoparticle-drug systems with potential applications for a variety of triggered release protocols.