Systemic delivery of an anti-cancer agent often leads to only a small fraction of the administered dose accumulating in target sites. Delivering anti-cancer agents through the lymphatic network can achieve more efficient drug delivery for the treatment of lymph node metastasis. We show for the first time that polymeric gold nanorods (PAuNRs) can be delivered efficiently from an accessory axillary lymph node to a tumor-containing proper axillary lymph node, enabling effective treatment of lymph node metastasis. In a mouse model of metastasis, lymphatic spread of tumor was inhibited by lymphatic-delivered PAuNRs and near-infrared laser irradiation, with the skin temperature controlled by cooling. Unlike intravenous injection, lymphatic injection delivered PAuNRs at a high concentration within a short period. The results show that lymphatic administration has the potential to deliver anti-cancer agents to metastatic lymph nodes for inhibition of tumor growth and could be developed into a new therapeutic method.
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