Open Science Research Excellence

Open Science Index

Commenced in January 2007 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Abstract Count: 66727

Meticulous Doxorubicin Release from pH-Responsive Nanoparticles Entrapped within an Injectable Thermoresponsive Depot
The dual stimuli-controlled release of doxorubicin from gel-embedded nanoparticles is reported. Non-cytotoxic polymer nanoparticles are formed from poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(benzyl glutamate) that, uniquely, contain a central ester link. This connection renders the nanoparticles pH-responsive, enabling extensive doxorubicin release in acidic solutions (pH 6.5), but not in solutions of physiological pH (pH 7.4). Doxorubicin loaded nanoparticles were found to be stable for at least 31 days and lethal against the three breast cancer cell lines tested. Furthermore, doxorubicin-loaded nanoparticles could be incorporated within a thermoresponsive poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) gel depot, which forms immediately upon injection of poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) into aqueous solution. The combination of the poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) gel and poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(benzyl glutamate) nanoparticles yields an injectable doxorubicin delivery system that facilities near-complete drug release when maintained at elevated temperatures (37 °C) in acidic solution (pH 6.5). In contrast, negligible payload release occurs when the material is stored at room temperature in a non-acidic solution (pH 7.4). The system has great potential as a vehicle for the prolonged, site-specific release of chemotherapeutics.
Chitosan Hydrogel Containing Nitric Oxide Donors with Potent Antibacterial Effect
Nitric oxide (NO) is a small molecule involved in a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological processes, including vasodilatation, control of inflammatory pain, wound healing, and antibacterial activities. As NO is a free radical, the design of drugs that generates therapeutic amounts of NO in controlled spatial and time manners is still a challenge. In this study, the NO donor S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) was incorporated into the thermoresponsive Pluronic F-127 (PL) - chitosan (CS) hydrogel, in an easy and economically feasible methodology. CS is a polysaccharide with known antimicrobial and biocompatibility properties. Scanning electron microscopy, rheology and differential scanning calorimetry techniques were used for hydrogel characterization. The results demonstrated that the hydrogel has a smooth surface, thermoresponsive behavior, and good mechanical stability. The kinetics of NO release and GSNO diffusion from GSNO-containing PL/CS hydrogel demonstrated a sustained NO/GSNO release, in concentrations suitable for biomedical applications, at physiological and skin temperatures. The GSNO-PL/CS hydrogel demonstrated a concentration-dependent toxicity to Vero cells, and antimicrobial activity to Pseudomonas aeruginosa (minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration values of 0.5 µg·mL-1 of hydrogel, which correspondents to 1 mmol·L-1 of GSNO). Interesting, the concentration range in which the NO-releasing hydrogel demonstrated antibacterial effect was not found toxic to Vero mammalian cell. Thus, GSNO-PL/CS hydrogel is suitable biomaterial for topical NO delivery applications.
Rheological Properties of Thermoresponsive Poly(N-Vinylcaprolactam)-g-Collagen Hydrogel
Stimuli-sensitive polymeric hydrogels have received extensive attention in the biomedical field due to their sensitivity to physical and chemical stimuli (temperature, pH, ionic strength, light, etc.). This study describes the rheological properties of a novel thermoresponsive poly(N-vinylcaprolactam)-g-collagen hydrogel. In the study, we first synthesized a facile and novel synthetic carboxyl group-terminated thermo-responsive poly(N-vinylcaprolactam)-COOH (PNVCL-COOH) via free radical polymerization. Further, this compound was effectively grafted with native collagen, by utilizing the covalent bond between the carboxylic acid groups at the end of the chains and amine groups of the collagen using cross-linking agent (EDC/NHS), forming PNVCL-g-Col. Newly-formed hybrid hydrogel displayed novel properties, such as increased mechanical strength and thermoresponsive characteristics. PNVCL-g-Col showed low critical solution temperature (LCST) at 38ºC, which is very close to the body temperature. Rheological studies determine structural–mechanical properties of the materials and serve as a valuable tool for characterizing. The rheological properties of hydrogels are described in terms of two dynamic mechanical properties: the elastic modulus G′ (also known as dynamic rigidity) representing the reversible stored energy of the system, and the viscous modulus G″, representing the irreversible energy loss. In order to characterize the PNVCL-g-Col, the rheological properties were measured in terms of the function of temperature and time during phase transition. Below the LCST, favorable interactions allowed the dissolution of the polymer in water via hydrogen bonding. At temperatures above the LCST, PNVCL molecules within PNVCL-g-Col aggregated due to dehydration, causing the hydrogel structure to become dense. When the temperature reached ~36ºC, both the G′ and G″ values crossed over. This indicates that PNVCL-g-Col underwent a sol-gel transition, forming an elastic network. Following temperature plateau at 38ºC, near human body temperature the sample displayed stable elastic network characteristics. The G′ and G″ values of the PNVCL-g-Col solutions sharply increased at 6-9 minute interval, due to rapid transformation into gel-like state and formation of elastic networks. Copolymerization with collagen leads to an increase in G′, as collagen structure contains a flexible polymer chain, which bestows its elastic properties. Elasticity of the proposed structure correlates with the number of intermolecular cross-links in the hydrogel network, increasing viscosity. However, at 8 minutes, G′ and G″ values sharply decreased for pure collagen solutions due to the decomposition of the elastic and viscose network. Complex viscosity is related to the mechanical performance and resistance opposing deformation of the hydrogel. Complex viscosity of PNVCL-g-Col hydrogel was drastically changed with temperature and the mechanical performance of PNVCL-g-Col hydrogel network increased, exhibiting lesser deformation. Rheological assessment of the novel thermo-responsive PNVCL-g-Col hydrogel, exhibited that the network has stronger mechanical properties due to both permanent stable covalent bonds and physical interactions, such as hydrogen- and hydrophobic bonds depending on temperature.
Controlled Release of Curcumin from a Thermoresponsive Polypeptide Hydrogel for Anti-Tumor Therapy
Polypeptide thermosensitive hydrogel is an excellent candidate as a smart device to deliver drugs and cells due to its remarkable biocompatibility, low gelation concentration, and respond to temperature stimuli, it can be easily injected as a polymer solution into the patient’s body where it undergoes gelation due to an elevation in temperature. Poly (ethylene glycol) monomethyl ether-poly (ethyl-l-glutamate) (mPEG-PELG) contains a hydrophobic side chain –C2H5 which is useful in encapsulating and stabilizing hydrophobic drugs. In this study, we plan to focus on the hydrophobic anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory drug curcumin, which due its insolubility in water, requires a proper carrier for delivery into the body. Our main concept is to use mPEG-PELG to stabilize curcumin, inject the curcumin-loaded hydrogel into the tumor site, and allow the enzymatically-sensitive hydrogel to be degraded by bodily fluids and release the drug. The polymers of interest have been successfully synthesized and characterized by 1H-NMR, FT-IR, SEM, and CMC. Curcumin loading content and drug release were assayed using HPLC. Preliminary results show that these materials have potential as a delivery vehicle for poorly soluble drugs.
Upconversion Nanoparticles for Imaging and Controlled Photothermal Release of Anticancer Drug in Breast Cancer
The Anti-Stoke upconversion process has been used extensively for bioimaging and is recently being used for photoactivated therapy in cancer utilizing upconversion nanoparticles (UCNs). The UCNs have an excitation band at 980nm; 980nm laser excitation used to produce UV/Visible emissions also produce a heating effect. Light-to-heat conversion has been observed in nanoparticles(NPs) doped with neodymium(Nd) or ytterbium(Yb)/erbium(Er) ions. Despite laser-induced heating in Rare-earth doped NPs being proven to be a relatively efficient process, only few attempts to use them as photothermal agents in biosystems have been made up to now. Gold nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes are the most researched and developed for photothermal applications. Both have large heating efficiency and outstanding biocompatibility. However, they show weak fluorescence which makes them harder to track in vivo. In that regard, UCNs are attractive due to their excellent optical features in addition to their light-to-heat conversion and excitation by NIR, for imaging and spatiotemporally releasing drugs. In this work, we have utilized a simple method to coat Nd doped UCNs with thermoresponsive polymer PNIPAM on which 4-Hydroxytamoxifen (4-OH-T) is loaded. Such UCNs demonstrate a high loading efficiency and low leakage of 4-OH-T. Encouragingly, the release of 4-OH-T can be modulated by varying the power and duration of the NIR. Such UCNs were then used to demonstrate imaging and controlled photothermal release of 4-OH-T in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
Dual Thermoresponsive Polyzwitterionic Core-Shell Microgels and Study of Their Anti-Fouling Effect
Microgel, a smart class of material, has drawn attention in the past few years due to its response to external stimuli like temperature, pH, and ionic strength of the solution. Among them, one type of polymer becomes soluble, and the other becomes insoluble in water upon heating displaying upper critical solution temperature (UCST) (e.g., polysulfobetaine, PSB) and lower critical solution temperature (LCST) (e.g., poly(N-vinylcaprolactam, PVCL)) respectively. Polyzwitterions, electrically neutral polymers are biocompatible, biodegradable, and non-cytotoxic in nature, and presence of zwitterionic pendant group in the main backbone makes them stable against temperature and pH variations and strong hydration capability in salt solution promotes them to be used as interfacial bio-adhesion resistance material. Majority of zwitterionic microgels have been synthesized in mini- emulsion technique using free radical polymerization approach. Here, a new route to synthesize dual thermo-responsive PVCL microgels decorated with appreciable amount of zwitterionic PSB chains was developed by a purely water-based surfactant-free reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) precipitation polymerization. PSB macro-RAFTs having different molecular weights were synthesized and utilized for surface-grafting with PVCL microgels varying the macro-RAFT concentration using N,N′-methylenebis(acrylamide) (BIS) as cross-linker. Increasing the PSB concentration in the PVCL microgels resulted in a linear increase in UCST but decrease in hydrodynamic radius due to strong intrachain coulombic attraction forces acting between the opposite charges present in the zwitterionic groups. Anti- fouling effect was observed on addition of BSA protein solution on the microgel-coated membrane surfaces as studied by fluorescence spectrophotoscopy.
Well-Defined Polypeptides: Synthesis and Selective Attachment of Poly(ethylene glycol) Functionalities
The synthesis of sequence-controlled polymers has received increasing attention in the last years. Well-defined polyacrylates, polyacrylamides and styrene-maleimide copolymers have been synthesized by sequential or kinetic addition of comonomers. However this approach has not yet been introduced to the synthesis of polypeptides, which are in fact polymers developed by nature in a sequence-controlled way. Polypeptides are natural materials that possess the ability to self-assemble into complex and highly ordered structures. Their folding and properties arise from precisely controlled sequences and compositions in their constituent amino acid monomers. So far, solid-phase peptide synthesis is the only technique that allows preparing short peptide sequences with excellent sequence control, but also requires extensive protection/deprotection steps and it is a difficult technique to scale-up. A new strategy towards sequence control in the synthesis of polypeptides is introduced, based on the sequential addition of α-amino acid-N-carboxyanhydrides (NCAs). The living ring-opening process is conducted to full conversion and no purification or deprotection is needed before addition of a new amino acid. The length of every block is predefined by the NCA:initiator ratio in every step. This method yields polypeptides with a specific sequence and controlled molecular weights. A series of polypeptides with varying block sequences have been synthesized with the aim to identify structure-property relationships. All of them are able to adopt secondary structures similar to natural polypeptides, and display properties in the solid state and in solution that are characteristic of the primary structure. By design the prepared polypeptides allow selective modification of individual block sequences, which has been exploited to introduce functionalities in defined positions along the polypeptide chain. Poly(ethylene glycol)(PEG) was the functionality chosen, as it is known to favor hydrophilicity and also yield thermoresponsive materials. After PEGylation, hydrophilicity of the polypeptides is enhanced, and their thermal response in H2O has been studied. Noteworthy differences in the behavior of the polypeptides having different sequences have been found. Circular dichroism measurements confirmed that the α-helical conformation is stable over the examined temperature range (5-90 °C). It is concluded that PEG units are the main responsible of the changes in H-bonding interactions with H2O upon variation of temperature, and the position of these functional units along the backbone is a factor of utmost importance in the resulting properties of the α-helical polypeptides.