Amphiphilic block copolymers for drug delivery

Authors

  • Monica L. Adams,

    1. Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2222
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  • Afsaneh Lavasanifar,

    1. Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 3118 Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre, Alberta T6G 2N8, Canada
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  • Glen S. Kwon

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2222
    • Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53705-2222. Telephone: 608-265-5183; Fax: 608-262-5345
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Abstract

Amphiphilic block copolymers (ABCs) have been used extensively in pharmaceutical applications ranging from sustained-release technologies to gene delivery. The utility of ABCs for delivery of therapeutic agents results from their unique chemical composition, which is characterized by a hydrophilic block that is chemically tethered to a hydrophobic block. In aqueous solution, polymeric micelles are formed via the association of ABCs into nanoscopic core/shell structures at or above the critical micelle concentration. Upon micellization, the hydrophobic core regions serve as reservoirs for hydrophobic drugs, which may be loaded by chemical, physical, or electrostatic means, depending on the specific functionalities of the core-forming block and the solubilizate. Although the Pluronics®, composed of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(propylene oxide)-block-poly(ethylene oxide), are the most widely studied ABC system, copolymers containing poly(L-amino acid) and poly(ester) hydrophobic blocks have also shown great promise in delivery applications. Because each ABC has unique advantages with respect to drug delivery, it may be possible to choose appropriate block copolymers for specific purposes, such as prolonging circulation time, introduction of targeting moieties, and modification of the drug-release profile. ABCs have been used for numerous pharmaceutical applications including drug solubilization/stabilization, alteration of the pharmacokinetic profile of encapsulated substances, and suppression of multidrug resistance. The purpose of this minireview is to provide a concise, yet detailed, introduction to the use of ABCs and polymeric micelles as delivery agents as well as to highlight current and past work in this area. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc. and the American Pharmacists Association J Pharm Sci 92:1343–1355, 2003

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