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      Overcoming the PEG-addiction: well-defined alternatives to PEG, from structure–property relationships to better defined therapeutics

      , , ,

      Polymer Chemistry

      Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

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          Polymer vesicles.

          Vesicles are microscopic sacs that enclose a volume with a molecularly thin membrane. The membranes are generally self-directed assemblies of amphiphilic molecules with a dual hydrophilic-hydrophobic character. Biological amphiphiles form vesicles central to cell function and are principally lipids of molecular weight less than 1 kilodalton. Block copolymers that mimic lipid amphiphilicity can also self-assemble into vesicles in dilute solution, but polymer molecular weights can be orders of magnitude greater than those of lipids. Structural features of vesicles, as well as properties including stability, fluidity, and intermembrane dynamics, are greatly influenced by characteristics of the polymers. Future applications of polymer vesicles will rely on exploiting unique property-performance relations, but results to date already underscore the fact that biologically derived vesicles are but a small subset of what is physically and chemically possible.
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            Knocking down barriers: advances in siRNA delivery

            Key Points RNA interference (RNAi) is a fundamental pathway in eukaryotic cells by which sequence-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA) is able to silence genes through the destruction of complementary mRNA. RNAi is an important therapeutic tool that can be used to silence aberrant endogenous genes or to knockdown genes essential to the proliferation of infectious organisms. Delivery remains the central challenge to the therapeutic application of RNAi technology. Before siRNA can take effect in the cytoplasm of a target cell, it must be transported through the body to the target site without undergoing clearance or degradation. Currently, the most effective synthetic, non-viral delivery agents of siRNA are lipids, lipid-like materials and polymers. Various cationic agents including stable nucleic acid–lipid particles, lipidoids, cyclodextrin polymers and polyethyleneimine polymers have been used to achieve the successful systemic delivery of siRNA in mammals without inducing significant toxicity. Direct conjugation of delivery agents to siRNA can facilitate delivery. For example, cholesterol-modified siRNA enables targeting to the liver. RNAi therapeutics have progressed to the clinic, where studies are being conducted to determine siRNA efficacy in treating several diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and respiratory syncytial virus. Moving forward, it will be important to pay close attention to the potential nonspecific immunostimulatory effects of siRNA. Modifications to siRNA can be used to minimize stimulation of the immune system, and an increased emphasis must be placed on performing proper controls to ensure that therapeutic effects are sequence-specific.
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              The dawning era of polymer therapeutics.

               Ruth Duncan (2003)
              As we enter the twenty-first century, research at the interface of polymer chemistry and the biomedical sciences has given rise to the first nano-sized (5-100 nm) polymer-based pharmaceuticals, the 'polymer therapeutics'. Polymer therapeutics include rationally designed macromolecular drugs, polymer-drug and polymer-protein conjugates, polymeric micelles containing covalently bound drug, and polyplexes for DNA delivery. The successful clinical application of polymer-protein conjugates, and promising clinical results arising from trials with polymer-anticancer-drug conjugates, bode well for the future design and development of the ever more sophisticated bio-nanotechnologies that are needed to realize the full potential of the post-genomic age.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                PCOHC2
                Polymer Chemistry
                Polym. Chem.
                Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
                1759-9954
                1759-9962
                2011
                2011
                : 2
                : 9
                : 1900
                Article
                10.1039/c0py00406e
                © 2011
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=c0py00406e

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