It is challenging to design effective drug delivery systems (DDS) that target metastatic breast cancers (MBC) because of lack of competent imaging and image analysis protocols that suitably capture the interactions between DDS and metastatic lesions. Here, we integrate high temporal resolution of in vivo whole-body PET-CT, ex vivo whole-organ optical imaging, high spatial resolution of confocal microscopy, and mathematical modeling, to systematically deconstruct the trafficking of injectable nanoparticle generators encapsulated with polymeric doxorubicin (iNPG-pDox) in pulmonary MBC. iNPG-pDox accumulated substantially in metastatic lungs, compared to healthy lungs. Intratumoral distribution and retention of iNPG-pDox varied with lesion size, possibly induced by locally remodeled microenvironment. We further used multiscale imaging and mathematical simulations to provide improved drug delivery strategies for MBC. Our work presents a multidisciplinary translational toolbox to evaluate transport and interactions of DDS within metastases. This knowledge can be recursively applied to rationally design advanced therapies for metastatic cancers.
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