A modern multi-functional drug carrier is critically needed to improve the efficacy of image-guided catheter-directed approaches for the treatment of hepatic malignancies. For this purpose, a nanocomposite microsphere platform was developed for selective intra-arterial transcatheter drug delivery to liver tumors. In our study, continuous microfluidic methods were used to fabricate drug-loaded multimodal MRI/CT visible microspheres that included both gold nanorods and magnetic clusters. The resulting hydrophilic, deformable, and non-aggregated microspheres were mono-disperse and roughly 25 um in size. Sustained drug release and strong MRI T2 and CT contrast effects were achieved with the embedded magnetic nano-clusters and radiopaque gold nanorods. The microspheres were successfully infused through catheters selectively placed within the hepatic artery in rodent models and subsequent distribution in the targeted liver tissues and hepatic tumors confirmed with MRI and CT imaging. These multimodal nanocomposite drug carriers should be ideal for selective intra-arterial catheter-directed administration to liver tumors while permitting MRI/CT visualization for patient-specific confirmation of tumor-targeted delivery.
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