Unusually Shaped Nanoparticles Could Carry Drugs Into Tumor Cells

December
2017

Nanoparticles that assemble into tubes and ellipsoids instead of spheres could streamline the delivery of anticancer drugs into tumor cells.

In a new study, a team of researchers in Australia developed a way to shape polymersomes into non-spherical configurations. Polymersomes are polymer particles that mimic the structure of liposomes, which are fatty vesicles that can be filled with drugs and transported into cells. But polymersomes are more stable than liposomes, making them a desirable candidate for targeted drug delivery, says Pall Thordarson, a chemist at the Univ. of New South Wales. The problem, he says, is that polymersomes are hard to coax into shapes other than spheres — and some evidence suggests that nonspherical nanoparticles are better recognized and taken in by cells than artificially perfect spheres.

Polymersomes are made of amphiphilic block-copolymers. When assembled in water, they form spherical configurations to minimize polymer-water interactions. Until now, the most...

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