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Crossing the blood-brain-barrier with nanoligand drug carriers self-assembled from a phage display peptide

Abstract: The filamentous bacteriophage fd bind a cell target with exquisite specificity through its few copies of display peptides, whereas nanoparticles functionalized with hundreds to thousands of synthetically generated phage display peptides exhibit variable and often-weak target binding. We hypothesise that some phage peptides in a hierarchical structure rather than in monomeric form recognise and bind their target. Here we show hierarchial forms of a brain-specific phage-derived peptide (herein as NanoLigand Carriers, NLCs) target cerebral endothelial cells through transferrin receptor and the receptor for advanced glycation-end products, cross the blood-brain-barrier and reach neurons and microglial cells. Through intravenous delivery of NLC-β-secretase 1 (BACE1) siRNA complexes we show effective BACE1 down-regulation in the brain without toxicity and inflammation. Therefore, NLCs act as safe multifunctional nanocarriers, overcome efficacy and specificity limitations in active targeting with nanoparticles bearing phage display peptides or cell-penetrating peptides and expand the receptor repertoire of the display peptide.

Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 4635 (2019)

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