In terms of synergistic cancer therapy, biological nanomaterials with a second near-infrared (NIR-II) window response can greatly increase photothermal effects and photoacoustic imaging performance. Herein, we report a novel stimuli-responsive multifunctional drug-loading system which was constructed by integrating miniature gold nanorods (GNR) as the NIR-II photothermal nanorods and cyclic ternary aptamer (CTA) composition as a carrier for chemotherapy drugs. In this system, doxorubicin hydrochloride (DOX, a chemotherapy drug) binds to the G-C base pairs of the CTA, which exhibited a controlled release behavior based on the instability of G-C base pairs in the slightly acidic tumor microenvironment. Upon the 1064 nm (NIR-II biowindow) laser irradiation, the strong photothermal and promoted cargo release properties endow gold nanorods@CTA (GNR@CTA) nanoparticles displaying excellent synergistic anti-cancer effect. Moreover, the GNR@CTA of NIR also possesses thermal imaging and photoacoustic (PA) imaging properties due to the strong NIR region absorbance. This work enables to obtaining a stimuli-responsive “all-in-one” nanocarrier, which are promising candidate for bimodal imaging diagnosis and chemo-photothermal synergistic therapy.

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