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Biomacromolecules. 2011 Jul 11;12(7):2708-14. doi: 10.1021/bm200485b. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

Synthesis of folate-functionalized RAFT polymers for targeted siRNA delivery.

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  • 1University of Rochester, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, 308 Robert B. Goergen Hall, Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


Receptor-mediated, cell-specific delivery of siRNA enables silencing of target genes in specific tissues, opening the door to powerful therapeutic options for a multitude of diseases. However, the development of delivery systems capable of targeted and effective siRNA delivery typically requires multiple steps and the use of sophisticated, orthogonal chemistries. Previously, we developed diblock copolymers consisting of dimethaminoethyl methacrylate-b-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate-co-butyl methacrylate-co-propylacrylic acid as potent siRNA delivery systems that protect siRNA from enzymatic degradation and enable its cytosolic delivery through pH-responsive, endosomolytic behavior. (1, 2) These architectures were polymerized using a living radical polymerization method, specifically reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization, which employs a chain transfer agent (CTA) to modulate the rate of reaction, resulting in polymers with low polydispersity and telechelic chain ends reflecting the chemistry of the CTA. Here we describe the straightforward, facile synthesis of a folate receptor-targeted diblock copolymer siRNA delivery system because the folate receptor is an attractive target for tumor-selective therapies as a result of its overexpression in a number of cancers. Specifically, we detail the de novo synthesis of a folate-functionalized CTA, use the folate-CTA for controlled polymerizations of diblock copolymers, and demonstrate efficient, specific cellular folate receptor interaction and in vitro gene knockdown using the folate-functionalized polymer.

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