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WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
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Applications of polymer micelles for imaging and drug delivery

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Polymeric micelles, self‐assembling nano‐constructs of amphiphilic copolymers, are widely considered as convenient nano‐carriers for a variety of applications, such as diagnostic imaging, and drug and gene delivery. They have demonstrated a variety of favorable properties including biocompatibility, longevity, high stability in vitro and in vivo, capacity to effectively solubilize a variety of poorly soluble drugs, changing the release profile of the incorporated pharmaceutical agents, and the ability to accumulate in the target zone based on the enhanced permeability and retention effect. Moreover, additional functions can be imparted to the micelle‐based delivery systems by engineering their surface for specific applications. Various targeting ligands can be attached for cell or intracellular accumulation at a site of interest. Also, the chelation or incorporation of imaging moieties into the micelle structure enables in vivo biodistribution studies. Moreover, pH‐, thermo‐, ultrasound‐, enzyme‐ and light‐sensitive block‐copolymers allow for controlled micelle dissociation and triggered drug release in response to the pathological environment‐specific stimuli and/or externally applied signals. The combination of these approaches can further improve specificity and efficacy of micelle‐based drug delivery to promote the development of smart multifunctional micelles. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2015, 7:691–707. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1332

This article is categorized under:

  • Biology-Inspired Nanomaterials > Lipid-Based Structures
  • Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Nanomedicine for Oncologic Disease
  • Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology
Schematic illustration of polymeric micelle structure and formation. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2009 Wiley)
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(a) Schematic of a Ligand mediated targeting micelle, (b) Redox responsive micelles, (c) interaction of multifunctional micelles with target cells demonstrated. ‘Smart’ micelle with a temporarily ‘hidden’ function, for example a CPP, and ‘shielding’ polymeric coat (with or without targeting antibody attached to it) providing longevity in the blood and specific target (tumor) accumulation and preventing the hidden function from premature interaction with target cells. Polymeric chains are attached to the carrier surface via low pH‐degradable bonds. After the accumulation in the tumor due to PEG (longevity) and/or antibody (specific targeting), pH‐dependent de‐shielding of the temporarily hidden cell‐penetrating function allow for carrier penetration inside tumor cells. (Adapted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2012)
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Structure of common micelle forming co‐polymer in micellar drug delivery.
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Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology
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