Cyclodextrin-calixarene giant amphiphiles that can self-assemble into nanospheres or nanovesicles have the ability to encapsulate the anticancer hydrophobic drugs docetaxel, temozolomide and combretastatin A-4 with encapsulation efficiencies >80% and deliver them to tumoral cells, enhancing their therapeutic efficacy by 1-3 orders of magnitude. These amphiphiles were modified by inserting a disulfide bridge confering them redox responsiveness. Disassembly of the resulting nanocompounds and cargo release was favored by high glutathione levels mimicking those present in the tumor microenvironment. Anticancer drug-loaded nanoformulations inhibited prostate, breast, glioblastoma, colon or cervix cancer cell lines proliferation with IC50 values markedly below those observed for the free drugs. Cell-cycle analysis indicated a similar mechanism of action for drug-loaded nanocompounds and free drugs. The results strongly suggest that the cyclodextrin-calixarene heterodimer prototype is an excellent scaffold for nanoformulations aimed to deliver anticancer drugs with limited bioavailability due to low solubility to tumoral cells, markedly increasing their effectivity.
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