Targeted drug delivery using genetically engineered diatom biosilica

Bahman Delalat, Vonda C Sheppard, Soraya Rasi Ghaemi, Shasha Rao, Clive Allan Prestidge, Gordon McPhee, Mary-Louise Rogers, Jacqueline Faye Donoghue, Vinochani Pillay, Terrance Grant Johns, Nils Kroger, Nicolas Voelcker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

210 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to selectively kill cancerous cell populations while leaving healthy cells unaffected is a key goal in anticancer therapeutics. The use of nanoporous silica-based materials as drug-delivery vehicles has recently proven successful, yet production of these materials requires costly and toxic chemicals. Here we use diatom microalgae-derived nanoporous biosilica to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to cancer cells. The diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana is genetically engineered to display an IgG-binding domain of protein G on the biosilica surface, enabling attachment of cell-targeting antibodies. Neuroblastoma and B-lymphoma cells are selectively targeted and killed by biosilica displaying specific antibodies sorbed with drug-loaded nanoparticles. Treatment with the same biosilica leads to tumour growth regression in a subcutaneous mouse xenograft model of neuroblastoma. These data indicate that genetically engineered biosilica frustules may be used as versatile backpacks for the targeted delivery of poorly water-soluble anticancer drugs to tumour sites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8791
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this