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John Garner's Technical Blog
John GarnerJohn Garner, Manager

What's New and on the Manager's Mind

A blog dedicated to answering technical questions in an open format relating to products from PolySciTech, a division of Akina, Inc.


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Nanoparticles for oral delivery of insulin developed using PolySciTech mPEG-PLGA

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:02 PM ET


Insulin injections are an effective treatment for diabetes, but are painful and difficult to sustain on a constant basis. Insulin cannot, under normal conditions, be ingested for example as a tablet because the protein is very delicate and will be destroyed by stomach enzymes. Loading of proteins into nanoparticles is not a trivial task as many of the solvents used to process nanoparticles would damage proteins causing them to unfold and denature irreversibly. Recently, researchers working jointly at Massachuesettes Institute of Technology (MIT), CHU de Quebec Research Center (Canada), Harvard Medical School, King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia), and Soonchunhyang University (Korea) utilized mPEG-PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo Cat# AK010) to generate insulin loaded nanoparticles by a zinc precipitation technique. This research holds promise not only to provide for improved insulin therapy with greater patient convenience but also to allow for the loading of other proteins into nanoparticles for therapeutic applications. This work was featured both in a research publication and in a PhD Dissertation. Read more: Chopra, Sunandini, Nicolas Bertrand, Jong-Min Lim, Amy Wang, Omid C. Farokhzad, and Rohit Karnik. "Design of Insulin-Loaded Nanoparticles Enabled by Multistep Control of Nanoprecipitation and Zinc Chelation." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, no. 13 (2017): 11440-11450. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsami.6b16854, Dissertation: Chopra, Sunandini. "Development of nanoparticles for oral delivery of insulin." PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2017. https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/108946/986242657-MIT.pdf?sequence=1


“Abstract: Nanoparticle (NP) carriers provide new opportunities for controlled delivery of drugs, and have potential to address challenges such as effective oral delivery of insulin. However, due to the difficulty of efficiently loading insulin and other proteins inside polymeric NPs, their use has been mostly restricted to the encapsulation of small molecules. To better understand the processes involved in encapsulation of proteins in NPs, we study how buffer conditions, ionic chelation, and preparation methods influence insulin loading in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)-b-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA–PEG) NPs. We report that, although insulin is weakly bound and easily released from the NPs in the presence of buffer ions, insulin loading can be increased by over 10-fold with the use of chelating zinc ions and by the optimization of the pH during nanoprecipitation. We further provide ways of changing synthesis parameters to control NP size while maintaining high insulin loading. These results provide a simple method to enhance insulin loading of PLGA–PEG NPs and provide insights that may extend to other protein drug delivery systems that are subject to limited loading. Keywords: biologics; diabetes; insulin; nanomedicine; oral drug delivery; PLGA−PEG nanoparticles; zinc”



Movie for using polymer micelles to assist drug dissolution

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:02 PM ET


PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) Polymer University: Micelles 103 Movie now posted. Fun and educational look at solubility problems in medicine as well as how block polymers assist with delivery of poorly soluble drugs. Introduces hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, interfacial tension, and micelle formation in a light-hearted and easy to follow format.


PLGA from PolySciTech used in development of veterinary peptide/nanoparticle-based vaccine against bovine paratuberculosis

Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 3:14 PM ET


In addition to human medical applications, there are also a wide range of veterinary applications for biodegradable polymers. Paratuberculosis is a costly disease of the bovine small intestine which occurs with high prevalence in US dairy herds. Currently available vaccines do not provide complete protection from infection due to poor immune activation. Attenuated virus vaccines against Paratuberculosis can only be used in sheep as they cause cross-reactivity in cattle. For this reason, dairy farmers have relatively little recourse against this disease to protect their herds. Recently, researchers working jointly at Washington State University, the US department of agriculture, and Alexandria University (Egypt) used PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo AP054) to create peptide-based vaccine (rather than killed or attenuated-virus) loaded nanoparticles for improved effectiveness. This research holds promise to improve dairy cattle disease resistance which will ensure a more sustainable food supply. Read more: Souza, Cleverson D., John P. Bannantine, Wendy C. Brown, M. Grant Norton, William C. Davis, Julianne K. Hwang, Parissa Ziaei et al. "A nano particle vector comprised of poly lacticcoglycolic acid and monophosphoryl lipid A and recombinant Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis peptides stimulate a proimmune profile in bovine macrophages." Journal of Applied Microbiology (2017). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jam.13491/full

“Abstract: Aims: We evaluated the potential of a nanoparticle (NP) delivery system to improve methods of delivery of candidate peptide based vaccines for Paratuberculosis in cattle. Methods and Results: Peptides derived from Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (Map), and the proinflammatory monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA) were incorporated in polymeric NPs based on poly (D, L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA). The PLGA/MPLA NPs carriers were incubated with macrophages to examine their effects on survival and function. PLGA/MPLA NPs, with and without Map antigens, are efficiently phagocytized by macrophages with no evidence of toxicity. PLGA/MPLA NP formulations did not alter the level of expression of MHC I or II molecules. Expression of TNFα and IL12p40 was increased in Map loaded NPs. T cell proliferation studies using a model peptide from Anaplasma marginale demonstrated that a CD4 T cell recall response could be elicited with macrophages pulsed with the peptide encapsulated in the PLGA/MPLA NP. Conclusions: These findings indicate PLGA/MPLA NPs can be used as a vehicle for delivery and testing of candidate peptide based vaccines. Keywords: PLGA ; monophosphoryl lipid A; Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis; Anaplasma marginale ; peptide vaccine”


Biodegradable polyesters (PLGA, PLA, PCL) from PolySciTech investigated for controlling Mg-based cardiovascular stent degradation

Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 2:19 PM ET




One treatment for cardiovascular disease is balloon angioplasty, in which a stent is emplaced at the site of arterial blockage in the heart. Initial work with bare-metal stents had reasonably successful results in keeping the artery open by providing structural support but, over time, the tissue of the vessel would grow back over the stent and into the interior portion of it reclosing the artery by a process known as restenosis. A variety of strategies have been applied to solving this issue. One strategy is to utilize a temporary, biodegradable stent comprised primarily of magnesium, which slowly corrodes back into biocompatible magnesium ions leaving no foreign surface for the arterial cells to grow over. However, the speed of Mg breakdown, on its own, is too rapid for stent application. Recently, researchers working at University of California at Riverside and Norco College utilized PLGA, PLLA, and PCL from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) PLLA (No. AP007), PLGA (90:10) (No. AP049), PLGA (50:50) (No. AP089), and PCL (No. AP009) to develop a series of biodegradable coatings to cover over magnesium-type stents. These coatings were used to delay Mg degradation and to improve the stent-surface interaction with arterial cells. This research holds promise for improved cardiovascular treatment by using biodegradable stents which do not suffer from late-stage restenosis. Read more: Jiang, Wensen, Qiaomu Tian, Tiffany Vuong, Matthew Shashaty, Chris Gopez, Tian Sanders, and Huinan Liu. "Comparison Study on Four Biodegradable Polymer Coatings for Controlling Magnesium Degradation and Human Endothelial Cell Adhesion and Spreading." ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering (2017). http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00215

“Magnesium (Mg)-based bioresorbable cardiovascular scaffold (BCS) is a promising alternative to conventional permanent cardiovascular stents, but it faces the challenges of rapid degradation and poor endothelium recovery after device degradation. To address these challenges, we investigated poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA), poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) (90:10), PLGA (50:50), and polycaprolactone (PCL) coatings on Mg, respectively, and evaluated their surface and biological properties. Intact polymer coatings with complete coverage on Mg substrate were achieved. The biological performance of the materials was evaluated by culturing with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro using the direct culture method. The pH of the culture media and Mg2+ and Ca2+ ion concentrations in the media were measured after culture to characterize the degradation rate of the materials in vitro. The results showed that the PLGA (50:50) coating improved the adhesion and spreading of HUVECs the most among the four polymer coatings. Moreover, we found three possible factors that promoted HUVECs directly attached on the surface of PLGA (50:50)-coated Mg: (1) the higher concentration of Mg2+ ions released into culture media with a concentration range of 9–15 mM; (2) the lower Ca2+ ion concentration in culture media at 1.3–1.6 mM; and (3) the favorable surface conditions of PLGA (50:50), when compared with the other sample groups. This in vitro study provided the first evidence that the PLGA (50:50) is a promising coating material for Mg-based biodegradable metals toward potential cardiovascular or neurovascular applications. Keywords: bioresorbable cardiovascular scaffold; bioresorbable magnesium implants; human umbilical vein endothelial cells; in vitro direct culture method; polymer coatings”


PLGA-PEG-amine from PolySciTech used to generate brain-penetrating nanoparticles for treatment of neural diseases

Monday, May 22, 2017, 3:02 PM ET


A significant problem in treating disease which affect the brain is that getting medicine into the brain tissue is very difficult. This is due to the ‘blood-brain-barrier’ which prevents medicines in the bloodstream from crossing over into the brain tissue. This is a unique feature of the brain, as other organs (kidneys, liver, lungs, etc.) readily absorb medicines from the blood stream. A simple method to overcome this barrier is to simply dose the medicine so high that even if a small portion of the drug crosses into the brain it is effective. However, this strategy does not work with medicines that have side-effects at high doses. Another method of dealing with this problem is to generate medicine-loaded nanoparticles which are specifically modified in such a way as to allow them to penetrate across the blood-brain barrier so they can deliver medicine into the brain for treatment of neural diseases. Recently, researchers working jointly at University of Southern Denmark (Denmark) and Instituto de Investigacao e Inovacao em Saude (Portugal) utilized PLGA-PEG-NH2 from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo AI058) to generate transferrin decorated nanoparticles for blood-brain-barrier penetration. This research holds promise for improved delivery of medicine to brain tissue for improved treatment of cancer or neural disease such as alzeheimers. Read more: Gomes, Maria Joao, Patrick J. Kennedy, Susana Martins, and Bruno Sarmento. "Delivery of siRNA silencing P-gp in peptide-functionalized nanoparticles causes efflux modulation at the blood–brain barrier." Nanomedicine 0 (2017). http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2217/nnm-2017-0023


“Aim: Explore the use of transferrin-receptor peptide-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) targeting blood–brain barrier (BBB) as siRNA carriers to silence P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Materials & methods: Permeability experiments were assessed through a developed BBB cell-based model; P-gp mRNA expression was evaluated in vitro; rhodamine 123 permeability was assessed after cell monolayer treatment with siRNA NPs. Results: Beyond their ability to improve siRNA permeability through the BBB by twofold, 96-h post-transfection, functionalized polymeric NPs successfully reduced P-gp mRNA expression up to 52%, compared with nonfunctionalized systems. Subsequently, the permeability of rhodamine 123 through the human BBB model increased up to 27%. Conclusion: Developed BBB-targeted NPs induced P-gp downregulation and consequent increase on P-gp substrate permeability, revealing their ability to modulate drug efflux at the BBB.”


PLGA from PolySciTech used as part of development of pH responsive nanoparticles for cancer treatment

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 4:48 PM ET


One of the fundamental problems with treatment of cancer is that the disease itself is still “part” of the human body. Cancer is simply a portion of the tissue and cells which are growing/proliferating at the wrong rate or in a manner which is damaging other tissues. For most diseases caused by an external pathogen, designing a medicinal treatment is simply a matter of finding an agent which affects the pathogen and not the patient. For example, the antibiotic penicillin prevents synthesis of cell-walls, which are key components of bacteria but not found in human cells. For this reason, penicillin can be easily administered to patients at high systemic doses with minimal concern for side effects. Unfortunately, for cancer, the situation is not so simple. Most agents which act to kill or prevent growth of cancer cells also have similar action on healthy cells, due to the fact both that the disease and the patient are of the same cell-type. For this reason, the few differences between cancer cells and normal cells that do exist are ideal targets to improve the action of therapeutics against cancer while maintaining minimal activity against normal cells. One difference between normal tissues and cancer is that, due differences in tumor metabolism, the tumor tissues become acidic with pH ~6.5-7 (typical cellular pH is 7.4). This has led to rumors that acidity causes the tumor to grow and that cancer can be prevented, or even cured, simply by consuming pH basic (or so-called “alkaline”) foods. If this was truly the case, then cancer could be cured by simply eating Rolaids or TUMS, which is not the case. It is the growing cancer generates the acidic environment, not the other way around. This pH variability is one difference between normal tissue and cancerous tissues which can be used for optimizing targeted drug strategies. Recently, researchers working jointly at Purdue University, Fudan University (China), Shenyang Pharmaceutical University (China), and Eli Lilly, utilized PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo AP081) to create drug-loaded nanoparticles. These were surface modified to render them pH sensitive for preferential release at low pH. Although they worked well during in-vitro testing, there were problems with components of blood interacting with the coating and altering it preventing the pH effect from being fully utilized during in-vivo research. This is an important aspect of real science is that often, during development, there are setbacks to overcome which are discovered over the course of the research. This research holds promise for development of improved chemotherapeutics. Read more: Han, Ning, Jun Xu, Liang Pang, Hyesun Hyun, Jinho Park, and Yoon Yeo. "Development of surface-variable polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery to tumors." Molecular Pharmaceutics (2017). http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b00050

“Abstract: To develop nanoparticle drug carriers that interact with cells specifically in the mildly acidic tumor microenvironment, we produced polymeric nanoparticles modified with amidated TAT peptide via a simple surface modification method. Two types of core poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (NL and NP) were prepared with a phospholipid shell as an optional feature and covered with polydopamine that enabled the conjugation of TAT peptide on the surface. Subsequent treatment with acid anhydrides such as cis-aconitic anhydride (CA) and succinic anhydride (SA) converted amines of lysine residues in TAT peptide to β-carboxylic amides, introducing carboxylic groups that undergo pH-dependent protonation and deprotonation. The nanoparticles modified with amidated TAT peptide (NLpT-CA and NPpT-CA) avoided interactions with LS174T colon cancer cells and J774A.1 macrophages at pH 7.4 but restored the ability to interact with LS174T cells at pH 6.5, delivering paclitaxel efficiently to the cells following a brief contact time. In LS174T tumor-bearing nude mice, NPpT-CA showed less accumulation in the lung than NPpT, reflecting the shielding effect of amidation, but tumor accumulation of NPpT and NPpT-CA was equally minimal. Comparison of particle stability and protein corona formation in media containing sera from different species suggests that NPpT-CA has been activated and opsonized in mouse blood to a greater extent than those in bovine serum-containing medium, thus losing the benefits of pH-sensitivity expected from in vitro experiments. Keywords: acid anhydrides; drug delivery; pH sensitive; PLGA nanoparticles; TAT peptide”


PLGA from PolySciTech used as rapamycin eluting coating on magnesium alloy stents for restenosis prevention as part of heart-disease research

Monday, May 15, 2017, 1:26 PM ET



A popular treatment for cardiac blockage is angioplasty. Under this treatment, a thin catheter is run up to the affection portion of the heart and then a balloon is expanded near the tip to remove the blockage. A drawback to this technique is that, over time, the affected blood vessel re-narrows unless something is left in place, such as a stent. Over a longer period of time, the tissues of the blood vessel will regrow over the stent and re-block the vessel by a process called restenosis. A wide variety of technologies have been applied to dealing with this issue so as to provide a long-term and effective angioplasty treatment for treating coronary artery diseases which can lead to heart-attacks if the vessel. Recently, Researchers working jointly at Purdue University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China), and Microport Endovascular Co. utilized PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo AP122) to generate a drug-loaded coating on the stent which released anti-proliferative rapamycin to prevent restenosis. They tested this coating both on conventional stainless steel surfaces as well as novel magnesium alloys. They analyzed these samples for drug release, polymer degradation, cellular response, and other parameters. They found drug release was accelerated by the magnesium alloy underlayment and that these materials showed superior anti-proliferative capacity relative to stainless steel. This research holds promise to effectively treat coronary artery disease and prevent heart-attacks by maintaining good blood flow through the blood vessels of the heart. Read more: Shi, Yongjuan, Jia Pei, Lei Zhang, Byung Kook Lee, Yeonhee Yun, Jian Zhang, Zhonghua Li, Song Gu, Kinam Park, and Guangyin Yuan. "Understanding the effect of magnesium degradation on drug release and anti-proliferation on smooth muscle cells for magnesium-based drug eluting stents." Corrosion Science (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010938X16314433

“Abstract: To understand the possible influence of substrate degradation on the drug-loading system of magnesium alloy-based drug-eluting stents, a rapamycin drug-loading poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) coating was prepared on Mg-Nd-Zn-Zr stents for a systematic investigation in a phosphate buffer system. Mg degradation accelerated the drug release kinetics prominently, which was mainly attributed to H2 evolution in the diffusion-controlled phase while thereafter to PLGA erosion. Although physiochemical stability of the released rapamycin was partially deteriorated by magnesium degradation, the drug-loading system on magnesium substrates exhibited a more potent long-term inhibition on smooth muscle cell proliferation in vitro as compared to drug-loaded stainless steel. Highlights: We firstly reported that the degradation of magnesium substrate would improve the in vitro rapamycin release from drug-loading PLGA/RAPA system on a Mg-Nd-Zn-Zr alloy. We quantitatively analyzed the factors enhancing the in vitro drug release kinetics from Mg-based drug-eluting system, distinguishing that it was mainly caused by H2 evolution, while pH only played a trivial role. We reported for the first time that the Mg-based PLGA/RAPA drug-loading system exhibited more pronounced long-term inhibition for the proliferation of smooth muscle cells, under conditions that PLGA with low degradation rate was used as the drug carrier. Keywords Magnesium; Organic coatings; Polymer; Erosion; Interfaces; Kinetic parameters.”


PLGA from PolySciTech used for generating dopamine-Mn coated theranostic nanoparticles for use in cancer treatment

Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 12:02 PM ET



Chemotherapy is the primary means of treating cancer however the currently available regimens suffer from significant side-effects and related toxicity due to the non-specific nature of this approach which damages both tumors as well as normal tissues. Combination therapies have been developed as a means for dealing with this by providing for a more targeted approach to cancer treatment in which the tumor is affected by the medicine to a greater degree than healthy tissues. Recently, PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo cat# AP040) was utilized to generate a doxorubicin loaded nanoparticle coated with dopamine and manganese. These particles serve both as magnetic resonance contrast agent and as a photothermal-triggered delivery system. This research holds promise for improved treatment of a wide array of cancers. Read more: Xi, Juqun, Lanyue Da, Changshui Yang, Rui Chen, Lizeng Gao, Lei Fan, and Jie Han. "Mn2+-coordinated PDa@ DOX/Plga nanoparticles as a smart theranostic agent for synergistic chemo-photothermal tumor therapy." International Journal of Nanomedicine 12 (2017): 3331. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5411169/

“Abstract: Nanoparticle drug delivery carriers, which can implement high performances of multi-functions, are of great interest, especially for improving cancer therapy. Herein, we reported a new approach to construct Mn2+-coordinated doxorubicin (DOX)-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles as a platform for synergistic chemo-photothermal tumor therapy. DOX-loaded PLGA (DOX/PLGA) nanoparticles were first synthesized through a double emulsion-solvent evaporation method, and then modified with polydopamine (PDA) through self-polymerization of dopamine, leading to the formation of PDA@DOX/PLGA nanoparticles. Mn2+ ions were then coordinated on the surfaces of PDA@DOX/PLGA to obtain Mn2+-PDA@DOX/PLGA nanoparticles. In our system, Mn2+-PDA@DOX/PLGA nanoparticles could destroy tumors in a mouse model directly, by thermal energy deposition, and could also simulate the chemotherapy by thermal-responsive delivery of DOX to enhance tumor therapy. Furthermore, the coordination of Mn2+ could afford the high magnetic resonance (MR) imaging capability with sensitivity to temperature and pH. The results demonstrated that Mn2+-PDA@ DOX/PLGA nanoparticles had a great potential as a smart theranostic agent due to their imaging and tumor-growth-inhibition properties. Keywords: PLGA nanoparticles, polydopamine, chemo-photothermal therapy, smart theranostic agent”


Amine-endcap PLGA from PolySciTech used in the development of nanoparticle based asthma treatment

Monday, May 8, 2017, 10:47 AM ET


Asthma is a very common disease affecting over 300 million people across the globe and is typified by severe inflammation of respiratory passages. Recently, overexpression of a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII) has been identified as one of the pathways which leads to this inflammation in asthma patients. A peptide which acts to inhibit CaMKII has been identified however delivering high doses of this peptide specifically to the lung-tissue requires a unique delivery system. Recently, Researchers working jointly at University of Iowa, Johns Hopkins University, and Mahidol University (Thailand) utilized amine-end capped PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo Cat# AI063) along with chitosan to develop inhalable cationic nanoparticle to deliver this peptide to the lung-tissue. They found this particle to be effective at cell penetration and to provide for asthma treatment with minimal side-effects in a mouse model. This research holds promise for improved asthma therapy. Read more: Morris, Angie S., Sara C. Sebag, John D. Paschke, Amaraporn Wongrakpanich, Kareem Ebeid, Mark E. Anderson, Isabella M. Grumbach, and Aliasger K. Salem. "Cationic CaMKII Inhibiting Nanoparticles Prevent Allergic Asthma." Molecular Pharmaceutics (2017). http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b00114


“Abstract: Asthma is a common lung disease affecting over 300 million people worldwide and is associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), eosinophilic airway inflammation, bronchoconstriction and mucus production. Targeting of novel therapeutic agents to the lungs of patients with asthma may improve efficacy of treatments and minimize side effects. We previously demonstrated that Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII) is expressed and activated in the bronchial epithelium of asthmatic patients. CaMKII inhibition in murine models of allergic asthma reduces key disease phenotypes, providing the rationale for targeted CaMKII inhibition as a potential therapeutic approach for asthma. Herein we developed a novel cationic nanoparticle (NP)-based system for delivery of the potent and specific CaMKII inhibitor peptide, CaMKIIN, to airways. CaMKIIN-loaded NPs abrogated the severity of allergic asthma in a murine model. These findings provide the basis for development of innovative, site-specific drug delivery therapies, particularly for treatment of pulmonary diseases such as asthma. Keywords: Polylactide-co-glycolide, PLGA, Nanoparticle, Chitosan, Asthma, CaMKIIN”


Polymers 102 "Biodegradation"

Friday, May 5, 2017, 11:40 AM ET


New Polymers University Video: Polymers 102 "Biodegradation" introduces hydrolysis of polyesters https://akinainc.com/polyscitech/products/polyvivo/polyU.php#102



mPEG-PLGA from PolySciTech utilized in optimization and fine-tuning of microfluidic nanoparticle formation techniques

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 2:12 PM ET


Polymeric nanoparticles are widely used to improve solubility of poorly soluble medicines and blood-circulation times of rapidly cleared medicines. In this way, these are often utilized to improve the efficacy of medicines by ensuring more of the medication actually reaches the location of usage rather than be cleared out of the blood-stream. There are a wide variety of ways to make nanoparticles, most of which are based around mixing the polymer from a solvent that dissolves the polymer well in with a solvent that doesn’t dissolve it at all. This is typically done in the presence of a surfactant so that the polymer solidifies into tiny spheres. The easiest of these techniques is a simple emulsion. Anyone could do this, even in a kitchen. Simply dissolve a Styrofoam cup in a small amount of acetone (paint thinner), load a household blender with soapy water and slowly drip the polystyrene cup solution into the blender full of sudsy water while it is stirring at maximum speed. After a few minutes of stirring, pass the white slurry through a coffee filter to remove any big particles and you now have a milky-looking slurry of polystyrene nanoparticles. I do not actually suggest doing this because: 1) acetone is flammable, 2) there is no practical application for generating nanoparticles in your kitchen, 3) the next time you go to make milk-shakes, they may taste terrible, and 4) it will certainly void the warranty on your house-hold blender (just because you can, doesn’t mean you should try this at home). Nanoparticles made by this type of emulsion technique come out in a wide range of different sizes, because the processes which drive their formation are random. However, microfluidics is a newer technique in which the mixing is precisely controlled so that all the nanoparticles are generated at the same size and in a highly controlled manner. Defining exactly how the blending of the polymer solution with the non-solvent occurs is a process which requires a great deal of experimentation and fluid mechanics to elucidate the precise parameters (concentrations, mixing speeds, etc.) that allow for predetermined sizes of polymer nanoparticles to be made. Recently, Researchers at The University of Queensland (Australia) utilized mPEG-PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) of two different block sizes (PolyVivo AK026 (5k-55K) and AK037 (5K-20K)) to investigate microfluidic mechanisms for producing monodisperse nanoparticles with extremely well controlled sizes. For this, they dissolved the polymers into acetonitrile and then processed them through an advanced microfluidics system to generate precisely sized nanoparticles. This research holds promise for the generation of well-controlled nanoparticles to encapsulate medicines and improve their efficacy. Read more: Baby, Thejus, Yun Liu, Anton PJ Middelberg, and Chun-Xia Zhao. "Fundamental studies on throughput capacities of hydrodynamic flow-focusing microfluidics for producing monodisperse polymer nanoparticles." Chemical Engineering Science (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009250917302993

“Abstract: Microfluidics enables the manipulation of liquids at the picoliter (or less) scale and proves to be superior over conventional bulk methods for mixing and reaction. The ability of microfluidic systems to rapidly mix reagents to provide homogeneous reaction environments, to vary the reaction conditions continuously, and to even allow reagent addition during the progress of a reaction, makes it attractive for nanoparticle synthesis. However, the low production rate limits its practical applications. Different approaches have been developed to achieve higher yield but most of them rely on the design of complex devices. Herein, we investigated fundamentally the throughput capacities of hydrodynamic flow-focusing microfluidics for producing poly (lactide-co-glycolide)-b-polyethylene glycol (PLGA-PEG) nanoparticles with uniform size ranging from 50-150 nm. The effects of different factors of microfluidic design, including channel width, channel depth, channel structure and flow rate ratios, on particle size, size distribution, and production throughput were studied and compared. In contrast to the widely used microfluidic device which has a production rate of 1.8 mg/h, our simple approach is capable of increasing the production rate of nanoparticles by more than two orders of magnitude up to 288 mg/h using a single simple device. This study demonstrated the potentials of using simple 2D microfluidic devices for a large scale production of polymeric nanoparticles that could eliminate the need for designing and fabricating complex microfluidic devices. Keywords: Microfluidics; 2D hydrodynamic flow focusing; PLGA-PEG NPs; mixing; nanoprecipitation. Highlights: A single hydrodynamic flow focusing (HFF) microfluidic device for production of polymeric nanoparticles at hundred milligram per hour scale. Tunable properties of the synthesized nanoparticles. Precise control over the size and size distribution of the synthesized nanoparticles. A library of polymer nanoparticles with systematically varied size.”




Polymers 101: What is a polymer?

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 2:10 PM ET


Akina's first polymer educational video is live. Polymers 101: What is a polymer?



mPEG-PCL, mPEG-PLA, and mPEG-PLGA from PolySciTech used in design of theranostic stealth nanocarriers as part of drug-delivery research

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 4:59 PM ET



One promising area of research in cancer therapy is the development of theranostics. This area of research focuses on simultaneous application of both a therapeutic agent (typically a chemotherapeutic agent such as paclitaxel) and a diagnostic agent (typically a contrast agent or fluorescent dye which renders the tumor ‘visible’). This research requires highly advanced delivery systems which can ensure that the tumor receives a suitable quantity of both agents such that it becomes visible to a surgeon as well as receives an effective dose of the therapeutic agent. In a fundamental sense, this requires well-designed nanocarriers with high loading efficiency (large doses of each agent) and which are highly stable in the bloodstream. Recently, researchers at Wroclaw University (Poland) utilized a series of PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) polymers including mPEG-PCL (PolyVivo Cat# AK128), mPEG-PLA (PolyVivo Cat# AK056), and mPEG-PLGA (PolyVivo Cat# AK037) to systematically generate a series of test-loaded nanoparticles containing model DNA and fluorescent dye Thiazole Orange. The researchers systematically investigated all steps involved in nanoparticle formation and tested the particles for their stability, loading capacity, and other parameters relevant to their clinical usage. This research holds promise for the development of highly advanced nanocarriers to assist in theranostic treatments of a wide variety of cancers. Read more: Bazylińska, Urszula. "Rationally designed double emulsion process for co-encapsulation of hybrid cargo in stealth nanocarriers." Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092777571730359X
“Abstract: Double emulsion process has become highly promising for development of PEG-ylated nanocarriers (NCs) with co-encapsulated hybrid model agents, i.e, hydrophilic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and hydrophobic Thiazole Orange (TO) dye, in the double compartment structure to protect them from the environmental conditions and to investigate different parameters affecting the size, charge and morphology as well as colloidal and biological stability of the final theranostic nanosystems. Different stabilizing agents including surfactants: Cremophor A25, Cremophor RH 40, Poloxamer 407, di-C12DMAB as well as polymers: PEG-PDLLA, PEG-PLGA, PEG-PCL, were screened to choose suitable ones for this approach. The average size of the synthesized NCs measured by dynamic light scattering (DLS) remained < 200 nm. The encapsulation efficiency of the hybrid cargo was confirmed by UV-Vis spectroscopy. Morphology and shape of the loaded nanocontainers were investigated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Time-depended colloidal stability studies with DLS and ζ-potential followed by turbidimetric technique allow to select only the long-term nanosystems to final investigation the “stealth” properties of the fabricated PEGylated NCs. Highlights: Double emulsion process has become easy-scalable synthetic approach to develop “stealth” nanocarriers (NCs) successful in DNA and TO co-encapsulation. PEG-PDLLA, PEG-PLGA, PEG-PCL acted as pre-approved biocompatible components of the NCs polymer shell.The optimized encapsulation process resulted in NCs with diameter < 200 nm, narrow size distribution and nearly neutral surface. DLS, ζ-potential and backscattering studies confirmed a long-term NCs stability, indicating their potential as theranostic biocompatible agents. The biological stability exposed the PEG-ylated NCs ability to overcome various specific barriers to efficient drug and gene delivery. Keywords: w/o/w emulsions; PEG-ylated polyesters; DNA; Thiazole Orange; colloidal stability. Fabrication method: Polymeric nanocarriers stabilized by PEG-PLGA, PEG-PCL, PEG-PDLLA and non-ionic or cationic surfactants for co-encapsulation of therapeutic (model DNA in the initial concentration of 0.1 mg/ml) and diagnostic agent (TO in the initial concentration of 0.2 mg/ml) were prepared by modified double emulsion (w/o/w) evaporation process without any pH adjustment [8]. Generally, aqueous internal phase (with DNA) was emulsified for 5 min in dichloromethane (containing TO, PEG-ylated polymer in concentration of 5 mg/ml and di-C12DMAB) in the ratio 1:4 using a homogenizer with 25,000 rpm. This primary nanoemulsion was poured into 1% hydrophilic surfactant solution (Cremophor A25, Cremophor RH 40 or Poloxamer 407) aqueous solution stirring in a homogenizer for 10 min (25,000 rpm) and immersed in an ice water bath to create the water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) emulsion. The organic solvent was then evaporated under reduced pressure in a rotary evaporator (Ika RV 10 digital) and polymeric nanocarriers loaded by the hybrid cargo were collected overnight.”


mPEG-PLA from PolySciTech used by Yale University in development of a novel blood-circulation assay method

Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 10:41 AM ET


A fundamental difficulty with medicinal applications to humans is that the circulatory systems of most living organisms are designed specifically to screen out any perceived toxins or ‘non-self’ components. Typically, the kidneys and the liver work together along with macrophages (white blood cells) to remove any chemicals or particulates from the bloodstream. Although this system provides protection to the human body from toxic ingestion, it creates great difficulty for applying medicines as it greatly reduces the blood circulation time of medicinal molecules. For general medicinal applications, the loss of drug from the bloodstream is calculated as the circulation half-life and dosing schedules are calculated to match. One method to improve blood-circulation is to encapsulate the drug molecule inside of PEG-PLA so-called ‘stealth’ nanoparticles. For these particles, the PEG external coating prevents attacks by macrophages while the size alone reduces uptake and clearance by kidneys or liver. These particles enhance the blood circulation time of medicines, but a key question is by exactly how much is the blood circulation time enhanced and what is the new circulation half-life. This question critical for practical applications as it would define the dosing schedule of the encapsulated drug as it must be dosed often enough to maintain effect but not too often so as to potentially have toxic side-effects. Recently, researchers at Yale University utilized mPEG-PLA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo Cat# AK054) to generate stealth-nanoparticles as test substrates for their novel fluorescence microscopy-based technique for determining half-life of particles using as little as 2 uL of blood. This research holds promise for rapid and routine determination of half-life using very small samples of blood. Read more: Tietjen, Gregory T., Jenna DiRito, Jordan S. Pober, and W. Mark Saltzman. "Quantitative microscopy-based measurements of circulating nanoparticle concentration using microliter blood volumes." Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1549963417300643

“Abstract: Nanoparticles (NPs) are potential drug delivery vehicles for treatment of a broad range of diseases. Intravenous (IV) administration, the most common form of delivery, is relatively non-invasive and provides (in theory) access throughout the circulatory system. However, in practice, many IV injected NPs are quickly eliminated by specialized phagocytes in the liver and spleen. Consequently, new materials have been developed with the capacity to significantly extend the circulating half-life of IV administered NPs. Unfortunately, current procedures for measuring circulation half-lives are often expensive, time consuming, and can require large blood volumes that are not compatible with mouse models of disease. Here we describe a simple and reliable procedure for measuring circulation half-life utilizing quantitative microscopy. This method requires only 2 μL of blood and minimal sample preparation, yet provides robust quantitative results. Graphical Abstract: Quantitative microscopy can be used to measure circulating concentrations of nanoparticles with as little as 2 μL of blood. However, when using such small volumes, the path length within and between samples can vary significantly as the high viscosity of blood can yield differences in think layer thickness as the blood spreads following application of a coverslip. This yields variability in the measured mean fluorescence intensity. Addition of a reference nanoparticle of a different color can correct the mean fluorescence intensity variance. Thus, quantitative microscopy can serve as a robust method for measuring nanoparticle half-life using μL volumes of blood. NP formulation: NP were prepared by a standard nanoprecipitation procedure. PLA–PEG (PolyVivo AK054) was dissolved at an initial concentration of 100 mg/mL in DMSO and then diluted to the desired concentration for NP formulation (typically ~55 mg/mL for the ~165 nm NPs used in this study) along with addition of either DiI or DiO dye also dissolved in DMSO. NPs were loaded with DiI or DiO dye at a final wt dye/wt polymer ratio of 0.5%. The dye/polymer solution in DMSO was added drop wise to vigorously stirring sterile diH2O in batches of 200 μL polymer/dye solution added to 1.3 mL of diH2O with identical repetitions performed to generate a full NP batch. NP were subsequently filtered through a 1.2 μm cellulose acetate membrane (GE Healthcare Life Sciences - Whatman) filter to remove any free dye or polymer aggregates and then pooled. Typically, 8 small batches of ~11 mg polymer each were combined for a total pooled batch size of ~88 mg initial polymer weight. The pooled NP solutions were then transferred to a 12 mL volume 10,000 MWCO dialysis cassettes (Thermo Scientific - Slide-A-Lyzer) and dialyzed against 2× exchanges of ~2.2 L of diH2O at room temperature to remove excess DMSO. Following dialysis NPs were aliquoted and snap frozen in liquid N2. One aliquot from each NP batch was lyophilized in a pre-weighed tube in order to determine the NP concentration. Standard NP concentration was typically ~5 mg/mL. NP batches were diluted to ~0.1 mg/mL and analyzed via dynamic light scattering (DLS) to confirm NP size and homogeneity.”



PhD Research Thesis from The University of Milan utilizes PLGA from PolySciTech as radical chain transfer agent

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 3:49 PM ET


Sometimes research holds surprising results. Radical chain transfer is a process which allows for controlling the molecular weight and end-cap properties of poly(vinyl) type polymers. Conventionally, radical chain transfer agents comprise of molecules custom designed for that exact purpose, such as thiol compounds in which the sulfur atom actively participates in the free radical interaction. Conventionally, PLGA is not typically applied to free radical chain transfer however researchers at The University of Milan were able to use PLGA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo cat# AP059) in this fashion to create PLGA-g-PVP. This research holds promise for the development of novel polymer compounds for a wide array of applications. Read more: Capuano, G. "Amphiphilic, Biodegradable and Biocompatible Polymers for Industrial Applications." (2017). Universita Degli Studi Di Milano Facolta Di Scienze E Tecnologie PhD School in Industrial Chemistry XXIX Cycle PhD Student Capuano Giovanna Thesis. https://air.unimi.it/bitstream/2434/477898/2/phd_unimi_R10587.pdf

“The aim of this PhD work was to establish the synthetic procedures for new families of biocompatible and biodegradable and/or bioeliminable biomaterials that can be differently processed to obtain nanoparticles, core-shell nanof ibres and hydrogel slabs or conduits, respectively. Depending on composition, size and morphology, these biomaterials may be intended for applications as drug delivery systems and/or tissue regeneration. Specifically, the research project has been developed along two main lines: Synthesis of poly(lactic-glycolic acid)-g-poly(1-vinylpyrrolidin-2-one) (PLGA-g-PVP) copolymers whose architecture consisted of a long PLGA backbone with oligomeric PVP pendants. These were obtained by the radical polymerisation of 1-vinylpyrrolidin-2-one in molten PLGA 50:50, acting as chain transfer agent. Synthesis of a new classes of poly(saccharide)-poly(aminoamine)s 3D-network intended as scaffolds for the regeneration of liver. (Synthesis of PLGA-g-PVP): PLGA (2.012 g, PolyVivo AP059) and VP (0.203 g, 1.83 mol) were added to dichloromethane (30 mL) in a two-necked 100 mL flask equipped with a stir bar. The resultant solution was purged 5 min with nitrogen and AIBN (2.1 mg, 0.013 mmol) was added. Dichloromethane was then eliminated at room temperature and 0.2 tor. After three nitrogen-vacuum cycles, the reaction mixture was heated to 100 °C, maintained at this temperature under nitrogen for 2.5 h, cooled to room temperature and dissolved in dichloromethane (100 mL). The solution was poured drop-wise in diethyl ether (1 L) under vigorous stirring and the resultant slurry stirred for further 2 h. The precipitated product was finally retrieved by filtration, washed with fresh ether (200 mL) and dried under vacuum.”



Poly(lactide) from PolySciTech used as part of bone-tissue engineering development work in recent patent application

Monday, April 10, 2017, 10:55 AM ET


Tissue engineering is an exciting field of research in which a cell scaffold is implanted to heal missing tissue. Normal human cells require a surface to adhere too and grow along. In the human body, this ‘surface’ is a group of cellular excretions, which give biochemical and mechanical (structural) support for the cells, referred to as the ‘extra cellular matrix’ (ECM). Without the ECM, cells cannot grow into the tissue. For this, and other reasons, damaged tissues will sometimes never regrow fully (e.g. amputations, defects, voids, etc.) The goal of tissue engineering is to find a way to replace the extra cellular matrix with a synthetic structure so that the surrounding cells can grow into the void area and replace it with new tissue. Recently, researchers at Pennsylvania State University published a patent in which PLLA from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo cat# AP047) was used as a control for bone-tissue replacement. This material, along with the experimental polymer, was processed into a porous structure by a method known as salt-leaching (see picture, Fig. 4B, for example). The examples of this patent provide excellent data regarding methodologies and use of this polymer in this application. Read more: Yang, Jian. "Methods of Promoting Bone Growth and Healing." U.S. Patent 20170080125, issued March 23, 2017. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0080125.html


“Abstract: In one aspect, methods of promoting bone growth are described herein. In some embodiments, a method described herein comprises disposing a graft or scaffold in a bone growth site. The graft or scaffold comprises (a) a polymer network formed from the reaction product of (i) citric acid, a citrate or an ester of citric acid with (ii) a polyol. The graft or scaffold further comprises (b) a particulate inorganic material dispersed in the polymer network.”


PLGA from PolySciTech used for development of NIR fluorescent dye delivery carrier to make tumors detectable through skin as a diagnostic aid

Friday, March 31, 2017, 5:28 PM ET


Near-infrared (NIR) is a frequency of light just outside of the range of human vision which can be seen through human flesh. The delivery of NIR fluorophores to cancer cells and other diseased tissues can provide for the opportunity to render cancer detectable through the skin by NIR fluorescent techniques. Recently, researchers at Wroclaw University (Poland) used PLGA from PolySciTech (PolyVivo AP062) to stabilize NIR active NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3 nanoparticles in a double emulsion along with nonionic surfactants. This research holds promise for allowing for improved cancer diagnostics by making tumors visible through the skin. Read more: Bazylińska, Urszula, and Dominika Wawrzyńczyk. "Encapsulation of TOPO stabilized NaYF 4: Er 3+, Yb 3+ nanoparticles in biocompatible nanocarriers: synthesis, optical properties and colloidal stability." Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092777571730300X


“Abstract: The emulsification process leading to up-converting NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3+ NPs encapsulation, was performed using a modified water/oil/water double emulsion evaporation method, where poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) was used as biocompatible polymer. Span 80 and Cremophor A25 were applied as non-ionic surfactants and dichloromethane as oily phase. The use of trioctylphosphine oxide ligands for the synthesis of up-converting NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3+ NPs allowed to obtain spherical particles with sizes below 10 nm, what further facilitated the efficient encapsulation process. Those newly designed nanosystems were subjected to analysis of their morphology, colloidal stability and optical properties by: dynamic light scattering, ζ-potential, atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and measuring the up-conversion emission spectra of free and loaded NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3+ NPs. The encapsulated NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3+ NPs showed increased colloidal stability for a long period of 60 days of storage in different conditions. Simultaneously, the encapsulation process did not significantly influenced their optical properties and strong visible emission could be observed upon nearinfrared excitation. Highlights: NaYF4:Er,Yb NPs 5 nm in size were synthesized with TOPO used as a stabilizing ligands. The modified double emulsion evaporation method was successful in the up-converting NPs encapsulation. PLGA, Span 80 and Cremophor A25 act as the obtained nanosystems stabilizers. The encapsulation process retain the optical properties of NaYF4:Er3+,Yb3+ NPs. The obtained nanocarriers have potential applications as theranostic agents.”


mPEG-PCL from PolySciTech utilized in development of Chrysin-nanoparticle based therapy for lung-cancer

Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 4:59 PM ET



Lung cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Chrysin, a natural active flavone, acts to enhance the chemotherapeutic effectiveness of other chemoagents (cisplatin, docetaxel, etc.) against lung cancer. Chrysin’s usability, however, is limited by its very poor water solubility and low bioavailability. Recently, researchers at Duksung Women’s University (Korea) utilized mPEG-PCL from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo #: AK001) to formulate chrysin-loaded nanoparticles which were found to delay tumor progression in a mouse model. This research holds promised for improved lung-cancer therapy. Read more: Kim, Kyoung Mee, Hyun Kyung Lim, Sang Hee Shim, and Joohee Jung. "Improved chemotherapeutic efficacy of injectable chrysin encapsulated by copolymer nanoparticles." International Journal of Nanomedicine 12 (2017): 1917. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352247/


“Abstract: Chrysin is a flavone that is found in several plants and in honeycomb and possesses various biological activities. However, its low solubility means it has poor bioavailability, which must be resolved to enable its pharmaceutical applications. In the present study, chrysin was incorporated into methoxy poly(ethylene glycol)-β-polycaprolactone nanoparticles (chrysin-NPs) using the oil-in-water technique in order to overcome problems associated with chrysin. The properties of chrysin-NPs were analyzed, and their anticancer effects were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Chrysin-NPs were 77 nm sized (as determined by dynamic laser light scattering) and showed a monodisperse distribution. The zeta potential of chrysin-NPs was −2.22 mV, and they were spherically shaped by cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). The loading efficiency of chrysin-NPs was 46.96%. Chrysin-NPs retained the cytotoxicity of chrysin in A549 cells. The therapeutic efficacies of chrysin-NPs were compared with those of chrysin in an A549-derived xenograft mouse model. Chrysin-NPs were intravenously injected at a 10 times lower dosage than chrysin 3 times per week (q2d×3/week). However, free chrysin was orally administrated 5 times per week (q1d×5/week). Chrysin-NP-treated group showed significant tumor growth delay, which was similar to that of chrysin-treated group, despite the considerably lower total dosage. These results suggest that the injectable chrysin-NPs enhance therapeutic efficacy in vivo and offer a beneficial formulation for chemotherapy. Keywords: chrysin, nanoparticle, chemotherapeutic efficacy, non-small-cell lung cancer, in vivo model. Nanoparticle preparation method: Chrysin (Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, MO, USA) was incorporated into copolymer NPs using an oil-in-water technique (Figure 1). mPEG–β-polycaprolactone copolymer (mPEG-PCL, 50 mg; 2,000:5,200 Da; PolySciTech, West Lafayette, IN, USA) and 5 mg of chrysin were dissolved in a dichloromethane (Duksan reagent, Gyeonggi-do, Korea) and methanol mixture (Duksan reagent; v/v, 1.5:1). This solution (2.5 mL) was added to a 1% aqueous polyvinyl alcohol solution (6 mL) and was emulsified by sonification for 1 min. The solvent was removed by evaporation under stirring to produce NPs. To remove polyvinyl alcohol and surplus free chrysin, the supernatant was collected after centrifugation (14,000 rpm) twice at room temperature for 1 h.”


T-shirt

Monday, March 27, 2017, 9:49 AM ET


PolySciTech: Keeping scientists and engineers fashionably dressed since 2013. (www.polyscitech.com, free t-shirt with select orders)



PLGA from PolySciTech used in optimizing 3D printing techniques for tissue engineering

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 4:32 PM ET


A relatively recent and powerful tool for both manufacturing and research has been developed in 3D printing. Despite it’s advantages, 3D printing is restricted based on the polymeric material’s melt and processing properties. Recently, researchers working jointly at University of Maryland, Cornell University, and Rice University screened through a series of PLGA materials in order to define the optimal printing procedures for each. The utilized a series of PLGA’s from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) (PolyVivo AP039, AP137, AP076, and AP024) and optimized their printing configurations for bone-tissue engineering. This research holds promise for the capability to print biocompatible, biodegradable parts for tissue engineering and other applications. Read more at: Guo, Ting, Timothy Holzberg, Casey Lim, Feng Gao, Ankit Gargava, Jordan Trachtenberg, Antonios Mikos, and John Fisher. "3D printing PLGA: a quantitative examination of the effects of polymer composition and printing parameters on print resolution." Biofabrication (2017). http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1758-5090/aa6370/meta

“Abstract: In the past few decades, 3D printing has played a significant role in fabricating scaffolds with consistent, complex structure that meets patient-specific needs in future clinical applications. Although many studies have contributed to this emerging field of additive manufacturing, which includes material development and computer-aided scaffold design, current quantitative analyses do not correlate material properties, printing parameters, and printing outcomes to a great extent. A model that correlates these properties has tremendous potential to standardize 3D printing for tissue engineering and biomaterial science. In this study, we printed poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) utilizing a direct melt extrusion technique without additional ingredients. We investigated PLGA with various lactic acid:glycolic acid (LA:GA) molecular weight ratios and end caps to demonstrate the dependence of the extrusion process on the polymer composition. Micro-computed tomography (microCT) was then used to evaluate printed scaffolds containing different LA:GA ratios, composed of different fiber patterns, and processed under different printing conditions. We built a statistical model to reveal the correlation and predominant factors that determine printing precision. Our model showed a strong linear relationship between the actual and predicted precision under different combinations of printing conditions and material compositions. This quantitative examination establishes a significant foreground to 3D print biomaterials following a systematic fabrication procedure. Additionally, our proposed statistical models can be applied to couple specific biomaterials and 3D printing applications for patient implants with particular requirements.”



PLGA-PEG-COOH from PolySciTech used in development of ultra-sound triggered breast cancer theranostic nanoparticles

Friday, March 17, 2017, 5:02 PM ET


One of the goals within controlled delivery is to provide for targeted medicinal delivery in which the medicine is guided to the site that it is needed in by natural processes. More specifically, in cancer, there is a need to delivery nanoparticles to the tumor site for both therapy (medicinal delivery) as well as diagnosis (contrast agent delivery) Recently, researchers at Chongqing Medical University (China) used PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) product PLGA-PEG-COOH (PolyVivo AI056) and conjugated on Herceptin (antibody which conjugates to breast cancer tumors) to target it towards breast cancer cells. They formulated these with both contrast agents and chemotherapeutic paclitaxel. This research holds promise for improved breast-cancer therapy. Read more: Song, Weixiang, Yindeng Luo, Yajing Zhao, Xinjie Liu, Jiannong Zhao, Jie Luo, Qunxia Zhang, Haitao Ran, Zhigang Wang, and Dajing Guo. "Magnetic nanobubbles with potential for targeted drug delivery and trimodal imaging in breast cancer: an in vitro study." Nanomedicine 0 (2017). http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2217/nnm-2017-0027


“Aim: The aim of this study was to improve tumor-targeted therapy for breast cancer by designing magnetic nanobubbles with the potential for targeted drug delivery and multimodal imaging. Materials & methods: Herceptin-decorated and ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO)/paclitaxel (PTX)-embedded nanobubbles (PTX-USPIO-HER-NBs) were manufactured by combining a modified double-emulsion evaporation process with carbodiimide technique. PTX-USPIO-HER-NBs were examined for characterization, specific cell-targeting ability and multimodal imaging. Results: PTX-USPIO-HER-NBs exhibited excellent entrapment efficiency of Herceptin/PTX/USPIO and showed greater cytotoxic effects than other delivery platforms. Low-frequency ultrasound triggered accelerated PTX release. Moreover, the magnetic nanobubbles were able to enhance ultrasound, magnetic resonance and photoacoustics trimodal imaging. Conclusion: These results suggest that PTX-USPIO-HER-NBs have potential as a multimodal contrast agent and as a system for ultrasound-triggered drug release in breast cancer.”


PolySciTech mPEG-PLGA and PLGA-Rhodamine products used in development of advanced chemoradiotherapy delivery system

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 4:58 PM ET


Chemoradiotherapy is a cancer therapy technique in which a sensitizer molecule is administered to a patient prior to administration of a dose of radiation. Typically, such a technique is made difficult as the sensitizer molecule can affect both tumor tissue and normal tissue, causing more damage from radiation. However, with the application of localized-delivery to the tumor, this technique holds great potential for cancer therapy by allowing specific and selective destruction of tumor tissue at a relatively lower dose of radiation. Recently, researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill utilized PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com)mPEG-PLGA’s (PolyVivo AK010, AK023) and fluorescently-tagged polymer PLGA-rhodamine B (PolyVivo AV011) for development of an advanced nanoparticle delivery system for Wortmannin (DNA-PK inhibitor) or novel KU60019 (ATM inhibitor) molecules. Both of these molecules act to increase local radiation damage to tumors by preventing DNA repair. The researchers found that smaller particles were more effective at avoiding hepatic clearance but medium sized particles showed more efficacy for sensitization. This research holds promise for enhanced cancer treatment techniques. Read more: Caster, Joseph M., K. Yu Stephanie, Artish N. Patel, Nicole J. Newman, Zachary J. Lee, Samuel B. Warner, Kyle T. Wagner et al. "Effect of particle size on the biodistribution, toxicity, and efficacy of drug-loaded polymeric nanoparticles in chemoradiotherapy." Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine (2017). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1549963417300448

“Abstract: Nanoparticle (NP) therapeutics can improve the therapeutic index of chemoradiotherapy (CRT). However, the effect of NP physical properties, such particle size, on CRT is unknown. To address this, we examined the effects of NP size on biodistribution, efficacy and toxicity in CRT. PEG-PLGA NPs (50, 100, 150 nm mean diameters) encapsulating wotrmannin (wtmn) or KU50019 were formulated. These NP formulations were potent radiosensitizers in vitro in HT29, SW480, and lovo rectal cancer lines. In vivo, the smallest particles avoided hepatic and splenic accumulation while more homogeneously penetrating tumor xenografts than larger particles. However, smaller particles were no more effective in vivo. Instead, there was a trend towards enhanced efficacy with medium sized NPs. The smallest KU60019 particles caused more small bowel toxicity than larger particles. Our results showed that particle size significantly affects nanotherapeutics' biodistrubtion and toxicity but does not support the conclusion that smaller particles are better for this clinical application. Graphical Abstract: Sub50 nm drug-loaded NPs avoid hepatic clearance and more homogeneously distribute within tumors. However, they are no more efficacious and are associated with more small bowel toxicity than larger particles. Keywords: Nanoparticle; Chemoradiotherapy; Nanoparticle radiosensitization; KU60019; Wortmannin”



Parkinson’s disease treatment developed using mPEG-PLGA block copolymer for neuroprotective agent delivery

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 8:49 AM ET


Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, neural-degenerative which affects motor control and other operations of the nervous system eventually leading to death. Schisantherin A is a recently discovered neuroprotective agent which acts to inhibit damage to neural cells and can be used to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25770828). It has severe limitations, however, as it is poorly soluble in water and quickly cleared from the blood-stream. Schisantherin A , like many neurological medicines, also faces the severe impediment of the blood-brain-barrier. This barrier which exists between circulating blood and brain tissue is intended to protect the brain from any toxic components that may be in the blood but also serves the unintentional purpose of preventing uptake of medicinal components into the brain tissue. Recently, researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Macau utilized mPEG-PLGA to generate small-sized nanoparticles containing Schisantherin A. They found these nanoparticles to improve serum circulation longevity and uptake across the blood-brain-barrier. This research holds promise for enhanced therapy against this fatal disease. Similar block copolymers can be purchased from PolySciTech division of Akina, Inc. (www.polyscitech.com). Read more about this exciting research here: Chen, Tongkai, Chuwen Li, Ye Li, Xiang Yi, Ruibing Wang, Simon Ming-Yuen Lee, and Ying Zheng. "Small-Sized mPEG–PLGA Nanoparticles of Schisantherin A with Sustained Release for Enhanced Brain Uptake and Anti-Parkinsonian Activity." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (2017). http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsami.7b01171

“Schisantherin A (SA) is a promising anti-Parkinsonism natural product. However, its poor water solubility and rapid serum clearance impose significant barriers to delivery of SA to the brain. This work aimed to develop SA in a nanoparticle formulation that extended SA circulation in the bloodstream and consequently an increased brain uptake and thus to be potentially efficacious for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Spherical SA nanoparticles with a mean particle size of 70 nm were prepared by encapsulating SA into methoxy poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(d,l)-lactic-co-glycolic acid (mPEG–PLGA) nanoparticles (SA-NPs) with an encapsulation efficiency of 91% and drug loading of 28%. The in vitro release of the SA-NPs lasted for 48 h with a sustained-release pattern. Using the Madin–Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell model, the results showed that first intact nanoparticles carrying hydrophobic dyes were internalized into cells, then the dyes were slowly released within the cells, and last both nanoparticles and free dyes were externalized to the basolateral side of the cell monolayer. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) imaging in zebrafish suggested that nanoparticles were gradually dissociated in vivo with time, and nanoparticles maintained intact in the intestine and brain at 2 h post-treatment. When SA-NPs were orally administrated to rats, much higher Cmax and AUC0-t were observed in the plasma than those of the SA suspension. Furthermore, brain delivery of SA was much more effective with SA-NPs than with SA suspension. In addition, the SA-NPs exerted strong neuroprotective effects in zebrafish and cell culture models of PD. The protective effect was partially mediated by the activation of the protein kinase B (Akt)/glycogen synthase kinase-3β (Gsk3β) pathway. In summary, this study provides evidence that small-sized mPEG–PLGA nanoparticles may improve cross-barrier transportation, oral bioavailability, brain uptake, and bioactivity of this Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) Class II compound, SA. Keywords: brain delivery; cellular uptake; fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET); mPEG−PLGA nanoparticles; oral bioavailability; Schisantherin A”



PLGA-PEG-Maleimide from PolySciTech used in development of macular degeneration treatment

Monday, March 6, 2017, 4:44 PM ET


One of the causes of ocular damage which can lead to blindness is choroidal neovascularization, effectively the over-growth of new blood vessels in the back of the eye. This condition is involved in the development of age-related macular degeneration which can lead to blindness. Recently, researchers at Yantai University (China) utilized Mal-PEG-PLGA (PolyVivo AI020) from PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) to develop RGD and TAT peptide modified nanoparticles to deliver therapeutics to ocular tissues as part of treatment of macular degeneration. This research holds promise to provide treatment for a disease which causes blindness. Read more: Chu, Yongchao, Ning Chen, Huajun Yu, Hongjie Mu, Bin He, Hongchen Hua, Aiping Wang, and Kaoxiang Sun. "Topical ocular delivery to laser-induced choroidal neovascularization by dual internalizing RGD and TAT peptide-modified nanoparticles." International Journal of Nanomedicine 12 (2017): 1353. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5325139/

“Abstract: A nanoparticle (NP) was developed to target choroidal neovascularization (CNV) via topical ocular administration. The NPs were prepared through conjugation of internalizing arginine-glycine-aspartic acid RGD (iRGD; Ac-CCRGDKGPDC) and transactivated transcription (TAT) (RKKRRQRRRC) peptide to polymerized ethylene glycol and lactic-co-glycolic acid. The iRGD sequence can specifically bind with integrin αvβ3, while TAT facilitates penetration through the ocular barrier. 1H nuclear magnetic resonance and high-performance liquid chromatography demonstrated that up to 80% of iRGD and TAT were conjugated to poly(ethylene glycol)– poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid). The resulting particle size was 67.0±1.7 nm, and the zeta potential of the particles was −6.63±0.43 mV. The corneal permeation of iRGD and TAT NPs increased by 5.50- and 4.56-fold compared to that of bare and iRGD-modified NPs, respectively. Cellular uptake showed that the red fluorescence intensity of iRGD and TAT NPs was highest among primary NPs and iRGD- or TAT-modified NPs. CNV was fully formed 14 days after photocoagulation in Brown Norway (BN) rats as shown by optical coherence tomography and fundus fluorescein angiography analyses. Choroidal flat mounts in BN rats showed that the red fluorescence intensity of NPs followed the order of iRGD and TAT NPs > TAT-modified NPs > iRGD-modified NPs > primary NPs. iRGD and TAT dual-modified NPs thus displayed significant targeting and penetration ability both in vitro and in vivo, indicating that it is a promising drug delivery system for managing CNV via topical ocular administration. Keywords: nanoparticles, ocular drug delivery, choroidal neovascularization, RGD, cell-penetrating peptides. Method for iRGD Conjugation: Briefly, Mal–PEG–PLGA was dissolved in acetone and the organic solvent then evaporated, dispersing the solute evenly on the flask wall. The flask was replenished with 0.01 M phosphate-buffered saline (PBS, pH 7.4) and left overnight to react with iRGD. The iRGD was conjugated to Mal–PEG–PLGA (at 4°C, at a 1:1 molar ratio of peptide to Mal–PEG–PLGA).”



PLGA from PolySciTech investigated for use as adjuvant in Streptococcus vaccine development

Monday, March 6, 2017, 4:43 PM ET


Group A Strep is highly virulent and can be deadly without proper treatment. One means to reduce Strep infections is to apply nanoparticles presenting certain portions of the bacteria’s M-protein marker to elicit an immune response against Strep. Recently, researchers at The University of Queensland and Griffith University (Australia) utilized PolySciTech (www.polyscitech.com) PLGA (PolyVivo AP041) to develop a nanoparticle vaccine against strep. They utilized PLGA as well as poly(lysine) and dextran to make these nanoparticles and found a substantially higher immune response against the PLGA likely due to its negative charge. This research holds promise for the development of an effective vaccine against Strep. Read more: Marasini, Nirmal, Ashwini Kumar Giddam, Michael R. Batzloff, Michael F. Good, Mariusz Skwarczynski, and Istvan Toth. "Poly-L-lysine-coated nanoparticles are ineffective in inducing mucosal immunity against group a streptococcus." (2017). http://www.hoajonline.com/journals/pdf/2052-9341-5-1.pdf

“Abstract Background: Group A Streptococcus (GAS) can cause a range of maladies, from simple throat infections to lethal complication, such as rheumatic heart disease. The M-protein, a bacterial cell surface protein, is the major virulence factor of GAS. Several attempts have been made over the past few decades to develop vaccines against GAS that employed peptides derived from the M-protein. One such approach used lipopeptides or lipid core peptide (LCP) systems that incorporated a B-cell epitope derived from the conserved region of the M-protein. Methods: In the present study, we prepared different biodegradable polymer [dextran, poly-(lactic- coglycolic-acid) (PLGA), and poly-L-lysine] nanoparticles (NPs)-based delivery systems for a lipopeptide vaccine candidate (LCP-1).The NPs were characterized by their size, charge, morphology, antigen-presenting cells (APCs) uptake and subsequent APCs maturations efficacy, followed by in vivo nasal immunization in mice. Results: All produced NPs ranged in size from 100-205 nm, and their charge varied depending upon the nature of polymer. A high APCs uptake efficacy for dextran and poly-L-lysine NPswere observed, compared to PLGA NPs. Despite the high uptake by APCs, dextran and poly-L-lysine NPs failed to improve APCs maturation that resulted in low antibody titres. In contrast, while LCP-1 encapsulated into PLGA showed low APCs uptake, it induced significant maturation of DCs and higher antibody titres compared to other NPs. Conclusions: Positively-charged poly-L-lysine NPs were non-immunogenic, while negatively charged PLGA NPs induced similar responses to antigens adjuvanted with cholera toxin B (CTB). Keywords: Mucosal delivery, lipopeptides, nanoparticles, nasal, vaccine, PLGA, Poly-L-lysine”



These posts are syndicated from John Garner's blog at http://jgakinainc.blogspot.com/.

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