Sugar-based amphiphilic polymers for biomedical applications: from nanocarriers to therapeutics.


Various therapeutics exhibit unfavorable physicochemical properties or stability issues that reduce their in vivo efficacy. Therefore, carriers able to overcome such challenges and deliver therapeutics to specific in vivo target sites are critically needed. For instance, anticancer drugs are hydrophobic and require carriers to solubilize them in aqueous environments, and gene-based therapies (e.g., siRNA or pDNA) require carriers to protect the anionic genes from enzymatic degradation during systemic circulation. Polymeric micelles, which are self-assemblies of amphiphilic polymers (APs), constitute one delivery vehicle class that has been investigated for many biomedical applications. Having a hydrophobic core and a hydrophilic shell, polymeric micelles have been used as drug carriers. While traditional APs are typically comprised of nondegradable block copolymers, sugar-based amphiphilic polymers (SBAPs) synthesized by us are comprised of branched, sugar-based hydrophobic segments and a hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol) chain. Similar to many amphiphilic polymers, SBAPs self-assemble into polymeric micelles. These nanoscale micelles have extremely low critical micelle concentrations offering stability against dilution, which occurs with systemic administration. In this Account, we illustrate applications of SBAPs for anticancer drug delivery via physical encapsulation within SBAP micelles and chemical conjugation to form SBAP prodrugs capable of micellization. Additionally, we show that SBAPs are excellent at stabilizing liposomal delivery systems. These SBAP-lipid complexes were developed to deliver hydrophobic anticancer therapeutics, achieving preferential uptake in cancer cells over normal cells. Furthermore, these complexes can be designed to electrostatically complex with gene therapies capable of transfection. Aside from serving as a nanocarrier, SBAPs have also demonstrated unique bioactivity in managing atherosclerosis, a major cause of cardiovascular disease. The atherosclerotic cascade is usually triggered by the unregulated uptake of oxidized low-density lipoprotein, a cholesterol carrier, in macrophages of the blood vessel wall; SBAPs can significantly inhibit oxidized low-density lipoprotein uptake in macrophages and abrogate the atherosclerotic cascade. By modification of various functionalities (e.g., branching, stereochemistry, hydrophobicity, and charge) in the SBAP chemical structure, SBAP bioactivity was optimized, and influential structural components were identified. Despite the potential of SBAPs as atherosclerotic therapies, blood stability of the SBAP micelles was not ideal for in vivo applications, and means to stabilize them were pursued. Using kinetic entrapment via flash nanoprecipitation, SBAPs were formulated into nanoparticles with a hydrophobic solute core and SBAP shell. SBAP nanoparticles exhibited excellent physiological stability and enhanced bioactivity compared with SBAP micelles. Further, this method enables encapsulation of additional hydrophobic drugs (e.g., vitamin E) to yield a stable formulation that releases two bioactives. Both as nanoscale carriers and as polymer therapeutics, SBAPs are promising biomaterials for medical applications.

DOI: 10.1021/ar4003009

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@article{Gu2014SugarbasedAP, title={Sugar-based amphiphilic polymers for biomedical applications: from nanocarriers to therapeutics.}, author={Li Gu and Allison Faig and Dalia S Abdelhamid and Kathryn E Uhrich}, journal={Accounts of chemical research}, year={2014}, volume={47 10}, pages={2867-77} }