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Acidity at surface of cancer cells is a hallmark of tumor microenvironments, which does not depend on tumor perfusion, thus it may serve as a general biomarker for targeting tumor cells. We used the pH (low) insertion peptide (pHLIP) for decoration of liposomes and niosomes. pHLIP senses pH at the surface of cancer cells and inserts into the membrane of targeted cells, and brings nanomaterial to close proximity of cellular membrane. DMPC liposomes and Tween 20 or Span 20 niosomes with and without pHLIP in their coating were fully characterized in order to obtain fundamental understanding on nanocarrier features and facilitate the rational design of acidity sensitive nanovectors. The samples stability over time and in presence of serum was demonstrated. The size, ζ-potential, and morphology of nanovectors, as well as their ability to entrap a hydrophilic probe and modulate its release were investigated. pHLIP decorated vesicles could be useful to obtain a prolonged (modified) release of biological active substances for targeting tumors and other acidic diseased tissues.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.