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Pharm Res. 2007 Jan;24(1):1-16. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

Micellar nanocarriers: pharmaceutical perspectives.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine, Northeastern University, Mugar Building, Room 312, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Micelles, self-assembling nanosized colloidal particles with a hydrophobic core and hydrophilic shell are currently successfully used as pharmaceutical carriers for water-insoluble drugs and demonstrate a series of attractive properties as drug carriers. Among the micelle-forming compounds, amphiphilic copolymers, i.e., polymers consisting of hydrophobic block and hydrophilic block, are gaining an increasing attention. Polymeric micelles possess high stability both in vitro and in vivo and good biocompatibility, and can solubilize a broad variety of poorly soluble pharmaceuticals many of these drug-loaded micelles are currently at different stages of preclinical and clinical trials. Among polymeric micelles, a special group is formed by lipid-core micelles, i.e., micelles formed by conjugates of soluble copolymers with lipids (such as polyethylene glycol-phosphatidyl ethanolamine conjugate, PEG-PE). Polymeric micelles, including lipid-core micelles, carrying various reporter (contrast) groups may become the imaging agents of choice in different imaging modalities. All these micelles can also be used as targeted drug delivery systems. The targeting can be achieved via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect (into the areas with the compromised vasculature), by making micelles of stimuli-responsive amphiphilic block-copolymers, or by attaching specific targeting ligand molecules to the micelle surface. Immunomicelles prepared by coupling monoclonal antibody molecules to p-nitrophenylcarbonyl groups on the water-exposed termini of the micelle corona-forming blocks demonstrate high binding specificity and targetability. This review will discuss some recent trends in using micelles as pharmaceutical carriers.

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