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J Control Release. 2004 Apr 16;96(1):37-53.

Self-porating polymersomes of PEG-PLA and PEG-PCL: hydrolysis-triggered controlled release vesicles.

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Department of Chemical-Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 112 Towne Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Controlled release polymer vesicles are prepared using hydrolysable diblock copolymers of polyethyleneglycol-poly-l-lactic acid (PEG-PLA) or polyethyleneglycol-polycaprolactone (PEG-PCL). Encapsulation studies with a common anti-cancer agent, doxorubicin, show loading comparable to liposomes. Rates of encapsulant release from the hydrolysable vesicles are accelerated with an increased proportion of PEG but are delayed with a more hydrophobic chain chemistry (i.e. PCL). Rates of release also rise linearly with the molar ratio of degradable copolymer blended into membranes of a non-degradable, PEG-based block copolymer (PEG-polybutadiene (PBD)). With all compositions, in both 100 nm and giant vesicles, the average release time (from hours to days) reflects a highly quantized process in which any given vesicle is either intact and retains its encapsulant, or is porated and slowly disintegrates. Poration occurs as the hydrophobic PLA or PCL block is hydrolytically scissioned, progressively generating an increasing number of pore-preferring copolymers in the membrane. Kinetics of this evolving detergent mechanism overlay the phase behavior of amphiphiles with transitions from membranes to micelles allowing controlled release.

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