Improved Efficacy and Reduced Toxicity Using a Custom-Designed Irinotecan-Delivering Silicasome for Orthotopic Colon Cancer

Xiangsheng Liu, Jinhong Jiang, Ryan Chan, Ying Ji, Jianqin Lu, Yu Pei Liao, Michael Okene, Joshua Lin, Paulina Lin, Chong Hyun Chang, Xiang Wang, Ivanna Tang, Emily Zheng, Waveley Qiu, Zev A. Wainberg, Andre E. Nel, Huan Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Irinotecan is a key chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of colorectal (CRC) and pancreatic (PDAC) cancer. Because of a high incidence of bone marrow and gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity, Onivyde (a liposome) was introduced to provide encapsulated irinotecan (Ir) delivery in PDAC patients. While there is an ongoing clinical trial (NCT02551991) to investigate the use of Onivyde as a first-line option to replace irinotecan in FOLFIRINOX, the liposomal formulation is currently prescribed as a second-line treatment option (in combination with 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin) for patients with metastatic PDAC who failed gemcitabine therapy. However, the toxicity of Onivyde remains a concern that needs to be addressed for use in CRC as well. Our goal was to custom design a mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSNP) carrier for encapsulated irinotecan delivery in a robust CRC model. This was achieved by developing an orthotopic tumor chunk model in immunocompetent mice. With a view to increase the production volume and to expand the disease applications, the carrier design was improved by using an ethanol exchange method for coating of a supported lipid bilayer (LB) that entraps a protonating agent. The encapsulated protonating agent was subsequently used for remote loading of irinotecan. The excellent irinotecan loading capacity and stability of the LB-coated MSNP carrier, also known as a "silicasome", previously showed improved efficacy and reduced toxicity when compared to an in-house liposomal carrier in a PDAC model. Intravenous injection of the silicasomes in a well-developed orthotopic colon cancer model in mice demonstrated improved pharmacokinetics and tumor drug content over free drug and Onivyde. Moreover, improved drug delivery was accompanied by substantially improved efficacy, increased survival, and reduced bone marrow and GI toxicity compared to the free drug and Onivyde. We also confirmed that the custom-designed irinotecan silicasomes outperform Onivyde in an orthotopic PDAC model. In summary, the Ir-silicasome appears to be promising as a treatment option for CRC in humans based on improved efficacy and the carrier's favorable safety profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Onivyde
  • colorectal cancer
  • irinotecan
  • mesoporous silica nanoparticles
  • pancreatic cancer
  • silicasome
  • supported lipid bilayer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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