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Biodegradable polymers as nanocarrier for targeted anticancer therapy!

One of the major challenges in cancer therapy is the occurrence of adverse side effects during and after treatment. In order to improve the tolerability, so-called nanocarriers are often used. As nanocarriers target specifically the tumor, they are able to reduce damage of healthy tissue or cells. A major disadvantage of the currently used nanocarriers is that they are often not biodegradable within the body. In a recently published Austrian Science Fund (FWF)-funded collaborative study of the Medical University of Vienna together with the Johannes Kepler University of Linz and the University of Vienna, novel completely biodegradable bottlebrush polymers were preclinically investigated as nanocarriers.

Localized anticancer therapy by nanocarriers is a promising treatment option and has gained increasing attention during the recent years. Nanocarriers are small synthetic structures of only a few nanometers in size, which can be loaded with drugs and used for tumor targeting. As increases the tumor specificity, interactions with healthy tissue or cells thereby reducing side effects can be minimized. It also prevents premature excretion of the drug (before it reaches the site of action). Nanocarriers are already been successfully applied in anticancer therapies. However, they usually suffer from various drawbacks, such as lack of stability, degradability and limited size.

In a recent study, published in SMALL, one of the leading journals in the field of Nanomedicine, researchers from the Center for Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna (team Petra Heffeter), the Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Johannes Kepler University Linz (team Ian Teasdale) and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Vienna (team Manfred Ogris) succeeded in preclinically developing novel bottlebrush polymers consisting of a polyphosphazene backbone and organic polyglutamate arms. They are degradable by the body without problems and are harmless for the organism. In addition, the innovative synthesis process allows strong control over the macromolecular structure. Therefore, well-defined bottlebrush polymers with high valency can be produced and successfully used as carrier molecules. Furthermore, the research team demonstrated that fluorescently labelled bottlebrush polymers accumulate in the malignant tumor. This makes these new polymers as a promising tool to target cancer cells.

Degradable Bottlebrush Polypeptides and the Impact of their Architecture on Cell Uptake, Pharmacokinetics, and Biodistribution In Vivo
Paul Strasser, Bianca Montsch, Silvia Weiss, Haider Sami, Christoph Kugler, Sonja Hager, Hemma Schueffl, Robert Mader, Oliver Brüggemann, Christian R Kowol, Manfred Ogris, Petra Heffeter, Ian Teasdale.
Small. 2023 Feb 26;e2300767. doi: 10.1002/smll.202300767