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Functionalized poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-based microgels in tumor targeting and drug delivery

  • Autori: Campora S.; Mohsen R.; Passaro D.; Samir H.; Ashraf H.; Al-Mofty S.E.-D.; Diab A.A.; El-Sherbiny I.M.; Snowden M.J.; Ghersi G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2021
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Over the past several decades, the development of engineered small particles as targeted and drug delivery systems (TDDS) has received great attention thanks to the possibility to overcome the limitations of classical cancer chemotherapy, including targeting incapability, nonspecific action and, consequently, systemic toxicity. Thus, this research aims at using a novel design of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) p(NIPAM)-based microgels to specifically target cancer cells and avoid the healthy ones, which is expected to decrease or eliminate the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. Smart NIPAM-based microgels were functionalized with acrylic acid and coupled to folic acid (FA), targeting the folate receptors overexpressed by cancer cells and to the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (Dox). The successful conjugation of FA and Dox was demonstrated by dynamic light scattering (DLS), Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), UV-VIS analysis, and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Furthermore, viability assay performed on cancer and healthy breast cells, suggested the microgels’ biocompatibility and the cytotoxic effect of the conjugated drug. On the other hand, the specific tumor targeting of synthetized microgels was demonstrated by a co-cultured (healthy and cancer cells) assay monitored using confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. Results suggest successful targeting of cancer cells and drug release. These data support the use of pNIPAM-based microgels as good candidates as TDDS.