Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer with median survival of only 15 months. Successful therapy is hampered by the existence of treatment resistant populations of stem-like tumour initiating cells (TICs) and poor blood-brain barrier drug penetration. Therapies capable of effectively targeting the TIC population are in high demand. Here, we synthesize spherical diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP)-based conjugated polymer nanoparticles (CPNs) with an average diameter of 109 nm. The CPN were designed to include fluorescein-conjugated hyaluronic acid (HA), a ligand for the CD44 receptor present on one population of TICs. We demonstrate blood-brain barrier permeability of this system and concentration and cell cycle phase-dependent selective uptake of HA-CPNs in CD44 positive GBM-patient derived cultures. Interestingly, we found that uptake alone decreases stemness, invasive properties and proliferation of the CD44-TIC population in zebrafish PDX models in vivo. This study is the first to show surface moiety-driven selectivity of conjugated polymer nanoparticles in targeting TIC populations in brain cancer.
References were corrected (added Ref. 45 in experiment section).