A new theranostic strategy is described. It is based on the use of an “all in one” prodrug, namely the biotinylated piperazine-rhodol conjugate 4 a. This conjugate, which incorporates the anticancer drug SN-38, undergoes self-immolative cleavage when exposed to biological thiols. This leads to the tumor-targeted release of the active SN-38 payload along with fluorophore 1 a. This release is made selective as the result of the biotin functionality. Fluorophore 1 a is 32-fold more fluorescent than prodrug 4 a. It permits the delivery and release of the SN-38 payload to be monitored easily in vitro and in vivo, as inferred from cell studies and ex vivo analyses of mice xenografts derived from HeLa cells, respectively. Prodrug 4 a also displays anticancer activity in the HeLa cell murine xenograft tumor model. On the basis of these findings we suggest that the present strategy, which combines within a single agent the key functions of targeting, release, imaging, and treatment, may have a role to play in cancer diagnosis and therapy.
S. Bhuniya, Maiti, S., Kim, E. - J., Lee, H., Sessler, J. L., Hong, K. Soo, and Kim, J. Seung, “An activatable theranostic for targeted cancer therapy and imaging”, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 53, pp. 4469–4474, 2014.