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Zwitterionic Block Copolymer Prodrug Micelles for pH Responsive Drug Delivery and Hypoxia-Specific Chemotherapy

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journal contribution
posted on 02.09.2021, 19:07 by Jianyang Zhao, Yi-Yang Peng, Diana Diaz-Dussan, Jacinta White, Wei Duan, Lingxue Kong, Ravin Narain, Xiaojuan Hao
Tirapazamine (TPZ) and its derivatives (TPZD) have shown their great potential for efficiently killing hypoxic cancer cells. However, unsatisfactory clinical outcomes resulting from the low bioavailability of the low-molecular TPZ and TPZD limited their further applications. Precise delivery and release of these prodrugs via functional nanocarriers can significantly improve the therapeutic effects due to the targeted drug delivery and enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. Herein, zwitterionic block copolymer (BCP) micelles with aldehyde functional groups are prepared from the self-assembly of poly­(2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine-b-poly­(di­(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate-co-4-formylphenyl methacrylate) [PMPC-b-P­(DEGMA-co-FPMA)]. TPZD is then grafted onto PMPC-b-P­(DEGMA-co-FPMA) to obtain a polymer-drug conjugate, PMPC-b-P­(DEGMA-co-FPMA-g-TPZD) (BCP-TPZ), through the formation of a pH-responsive imine bond, exhibiting a pH-dependent drug release profile owing to the cleavage of the imine bond under acidic conditions. Outstandingly, BCP-TPZ shows around 13.7-fold higher cytotoxicity to hypoxic cancer cells in comparison to normoxic cancer cells evaluated through an in vitro cytotoxicity assay. The pH-responsiveness and hypoxia-specific cytotoxicity confer BCP-TPZ micelles a great potential to achieve precise delivery of TPZD and thus enhance the therapeutic effect toward tumor-hypoxia.