Key Points

  • Dual inhibition of MCL1 and BCL2 proteins results in a durable remission in DLBCL mouse models.

  • S63845 or venetoclax encapsulated in tumor targeted nanoparticles improves the therapeutic index of the combination

Cancer and normal cells utilize multiple anti-apoptotic BCL2 proteins to prevent cell death. Therapeutic targeting of multiple BCL2 family proteins enhances tumor killing, but is also associated with increased systemic toxicity. Here, we demonstrate that the dual targeting of MCL1 and BCL2 proteins, using the small molecules S63845 and venetoclax, induces durable remissions in mice harboring human DLBCL tumors but is accompanied by hematological toxicity and weight loss. To mitigate these toxicities, we encapsulated S63845 or venetoclax into nanoparticles targeting P-selectin that is enriched in tumor endothelial cells. In vivo and ex vivo imaging demonstrated preferential targeting of the nanoparticles to lymphoma tumors over vital organs. Mass-spectrometry analyses after nanoparticle drug administration confirmed tumor enrichment of the drug while reducing plasma levels. Furthermore, nanoparticle encapsulation allowed 3.5 to 6.5-fold reduction in drug dose, induced sustained remissions and minimized toxicity. Our results support the development of nanoparticles to deliver BH3 mimetic combinations in lymphoma and in general for toxic drugs in cancer therapy.

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