Development of thermosensitive resiquimod-loaded liposomes for enhanced cancer immunotherapy. Academic Article uri icon


  • Resiquimod (R848) is a toll-like receptor 7 and 8 (TLR7/8) agonist with potent antitumor and immunostimulatory activity. However, systemic delivery of R848 is poorly tolerated because of its poor solubility in water and systemic immune activation. In order to address these limitations, we developed an intravenously-injectable formulation with R848 using thermosensitive liposomes (TSLs) as a delivery vehicle. R848 was remotely loaded into TSLs composed of DPPC: DSPC: DSPE-PEG2K (85:10:5, mol%) with 100mM FeSO4 as the trapping agent inside. The final R848 to lipid ratio of the optimized R848-loaded TSLs (R848-TSLs) was 0.09 (w/w), 10-fold higher than the previously-reported values. R848-TSLs released 80% of R848 within 5min at 42C. These TSLs were then combined with PD-1, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, and ultrasound-mediated hyperthermia in a neu deletion (NDL) mouse mammary carcinoma model (Her2+, ER/PR negative). Combined with PD-1, local injection of R848-TSLs showed superior efficacy with complete NDL tumor regression in both treated and abscopal sites achieved in 8 of 11 tumor bearing mice over 100days. Immunohistochemistry confirmed enhanced CD8+ T cell infiltration and accumulation by R848-TSLs. Systemic delivery of R848-TSLs, combined with local hyperthermia and PD-1, inhibited tumor growth and extended median survival from 28days (non-treatment control) to 94days. Upon re-challenge with reinjection of tumor cells, none of the previously cured mice developed tumors, as compared with 100% of age-matched control mice. The dose of R848 (10g for intra-tumoral injection or 6mg/kg for intravenous injection delivered up to 4 times) was well-tolerated without weight loss or organ hypertrophy. In summary, we developed R848-TSLs that can be administered locally or systematically, resulting in tumor regression and enhanced survival when combined with PD-1 in mouse models of breast cancer.

published proceedings

  • J Control Release

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, H., Tang, W., Kheirolomoom, A., Fite, B. Z., Wu, B. o., Lau, K., ... Ferrara, K. W.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Hua||Tang, Wei-Lun||Kheirolomoom, Azadeh||Fite, Brett Z||Wu, Bo||Lau, Kenneth||Baikoghli, Mo||Raie, Marina Nura||Tumbale, Spencer K||Foiret, Josquin||Ingham, Elizabeth S||Mahakian, Lisa M||Tam, Sarah M||Cheng, R Holland||Borowsky, Alexander D||Ferrara, Katherine W

publication date

  • January 2021