Controlled Intracellular Polymerization for Cancer Treatment

Yichuan Zhang, Quan Gao, Weishuo Li, Rongkun He, Liwei Zhu, Qianjin Lian, Liang Wang, Yang Li, Mark Bradley, Jin Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous prodrugs have been developed and used for cancer treatments to reduce side effects and promote efficacy. In this work, we have developed a new photoactivatable prodrug system based on intracellular photoinduced electron transfer-reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (PET-RAFT) polymerization. This unique polymerization process provided a platform for the synthesis of structure-predictable polymers with well-defined structures in living cells. The intracellularly generated poly( N, N-dimethylacrylamide)s were found to induce cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and necroptosis, inhibit cell proliferation, and reduce cancer cell motilities. This polymerization-based "prodrug" system efficiently inhibits tumor growth and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo and will promote the development of targeted and directed cancer chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-589
Number of pages11
JournalJACS Au
Issue number3
Early online date23 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2022


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