Nanoparticles of VAV1 siRNA combined with LL37 peptide for the treatment of pancreatic cancer

Majd Agbaria, Doaa Jbara-Agbaria, Etty Grad, Meital Ben-David-Naim, Gil Aizik, Gershon Golomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is among the leading causes of cancer-related death, and it is highly resistant to therapy owing to its unique extracellular matrix. VAV1 protein, overexpressed in several cancer diseases including pancreatic cancer (PC), increases tumor proliferation and enhances metastases formation, which are associated with decreased survival. We hypothesized that an additive anti-tumor effect could be obtained by co-encapsulating in PLGA nanoparticles (NPs), the negatively charged siRNA against VAV1 (siVAV1) with the positively charged anti-tumor LL37 peptide, as a counter-ion. Several types of NPs were formulated and were characterized for their physicochemical properties, cellular internalization, and bioactivity in vitro. NPs' biodistribution, toxicity, and bioactivity were examined in a mice PDAC model. An optimal siVAV1 formulation (siVAV1-LL37 NPs) was characterized with desirable physicochemical properties in terms of nano-size, low polydispersity index (PDI), neutral surface charge, high siVAV1 encapsulation efficiency, spherical shape, and long-term shelf-life stability. Cell assays demonstrated rapid engulfment by PC cells, a specific and significant dose-dependent proliferation inhibition, as well as knockdown of VAV1 mRNA levels and migration inhibition in VAV1+ cells. Treatment with siVAV1-LL37 NPs in the mice PDAC model revealed marked accumulation of NPs in the liver and in the tumor, resulting in an increased survival rate following suppression of tumor growth and metastases, mediated via the knockdown of both VAV1 mRNA and protein levels. This proof-of-concept study validates our hypothesis of an additive effect in the treatment of PC facilitated by co-encapsulating siVAV1 in NPs with LL37 serving a dual role as a counter ion as well as an anti-tumor agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-326
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Combination therapy
  • LL37 peptide
  • Nanoparticles
  • PLGA
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • VAV1 siRNA


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