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Heterotelechelic polymer prodrug nanoparticles: Adaptability to different drug combinations and influence of the dual functionalization on the cytotoxicity

Vinciguerra, Daniele, Jacobs, Merel, Denis, Stéphanie, Mougin, Julie, Guillaneuf, Yohann, Lazzari, Gianpiero, Zhu, Chen, Mura, Simona, Couvreur, Patrick, Nicolas, Julien
Journal of controlled release 2019 v.295 pp. 223-236
combination drug therapy, cytotoxicity, doxorubicin, inhibitory concentration 50, molecular weight, nanocarriers, nanoparticles, particle size distribution, polymerization, polymers, synergism
Well-defined, heterotelechelic polymer prodrugs for combination therapy were synthesized by using a combination of the “drug-initiated” nitroxide-mediated polymerization from a gemcitabine-alkoxyamine initiator and the nitroxide exchange reaction using TEMPO-bearing drugs to end-cap the drug-polymer chain-end by a second drug. This methodology was successfully applied to two different clinically relevant combinations, gemcitabine/doxorubicin (Gem/Dox) and gemcitabine/lapatinib (Gem/Lap), showing a certain degree of universality of the synthetic methodology. It also represented the first nanocarrier for the co-delivery of Gem and Lap ever reported. Well-controlled, low molar mass heterotelechelic polymers (Mn = 2100–4090 g.mol−1, Ð = 1.18–1.38) with ~1:1 drug ratios and high overall drug loadings up to 40 wt% were obtained. They were formulated into nanoparticles by nanoprecipitation and exhibited average diameters in the 34–154 nm range, with narrow particle size distributions (PSD = 0.01–0.22) and excellent colloidal stability over time. Their biological evaluation in terms of drug release and cytotoxicity was performed and compared to that of different monofunctional polymer prodrug formulations. We showed that heterobifunctional polymer prodrugs induced cytotoxicity to MCF-7 cells, with IC50 values in the 120–300 nM range depending on the combination tested. Interestingly, whereas Gem/Dox combination did not lead to noticeable improvement over monofunctional therapies, co-nanoprecipitation of Gem/Lap prodrugs led to synergistic effect.