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Biomacromolecules. 2005 Mar-Apr;6(2):663-70.

Synthesis of well-defined amphiphilic block copolymers having phospholipid polymer sequences as a novel biocompatible polymer micelle reagent.

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Department of Materials Science and Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Hyogo, 2167 Shosha, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2201, Japan.


To realize safer and effective drug administration, novel well-defined and biocompatible amphiphilic block copolymers containing phospholipid polymer sequences were synthesized. At first, the homopolymer of 2-methacryloyloxyethylphosphorylcholine (MPC) was synthesized in water by reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) controlled radical polymerization. The "living" polymerization was confirmed by the fact that the number-average molecular weight increased linearly with monomer conversion while the molecular weight distribution remained narrow independent of the conversion. The poly(MPC) thus prepared is end-capped with a dithioester moiety. Using the dithioester-capped poly(MPC) as a macro chain transfer agent, AB diblock copolymers of MPC and n-butyl methacrylate (BMA) were synthesized. Associative properties of the amphiphilic block copolymer (pMPC(m)-BMA(n)) with varying poly(BMA) block lengths were investigated using NMR, fluorescence probe, static light scattering (SLS), and quasi-elastic light scattering (QELS) techniques. Proton NMR data in D2O indicated highly restricted motions of the n-butyl moieties, arising from hydrophobic associations of poly(BMA) blocks. Fluorescence spectra of N-phenyl-1-naphthylamine indicated that the probes were solubilized in the polymer micelles in water. The formation of polymer micelles comprising a core with poly(BMA) blocks and shell with hydrophilic poly(MPC) blocks was suggested by SLS and QELS data. The size and mass of the micelle increased with increasing poly(BMA) block length. With an expectation of a pharmaceutical application of pMPC(m)-BMA(n), solubilization of a poorly water-soluble anticancer agent, paclitaxel (PTX), was investigated. PTX dissolved well in aqueous solutions of pMPC(m)-BMA(n) as compared with pure water, implying that PTX is incorporated into the hydrophobic core of the polymer micelle. Since excellent biocompatible poly(MPC) sequences form an outer shell of the micelle, pMPC(m)-BMA(n) may find application as a promising reagent to make a good formulation with a hydrophobic drug.

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