Enhanced Endosomal Escape by Light-Fueled Liquid-Metal Transformer

Nano Letters, 2017


Effective endosomal escape remains as the “holy grail” for endocytosis-based intracellular drug delivery. To date, most of the endosomal escape strategies rely on small molecules, cationic polymers, or pore-forming proteins, which are often limited by the systemic toxicity and lack of specificity. We describe here a light-fueled liquid-metal transformer for effective endosomal escape-facilitated cargo delivery via a chemical-mechanical process. The nanoscale transformer can be prepared by a simple approach of sonicating a low-toxicity liquid-metal. When coated with graphene quantum dots (GQDs), the resulting nanospheres demonstrate the ability to absorb and convert photoenergy to drive the simultaneous phase separation and morphological transformation of the inner liquid-metal core. The morphological transformation from nanospheres to hollow nanorods with a remarkable change of aspect ratio can physically disrupt the endosomal membrane to promote endosomal escape of payloads. This metal-based nanotransformer equipped with GQDs provides a new strategy for facilitating effective endosomal escape to achieve spatiotemporally controlled drug delivery with enhanced efficacy.

Nano Letters