Scientists Develop Plastic Nanoparticles That Could Improve the Drug Delivery to Tumours

Scientists at UNSW (The University of New South Wales), Sydney have developed smart polymers that could improve the delivery of toxic drugs to tumours. These smart polymers have a unique characteristic – they can self-assemble into non-spherical nanoparticles.  Yes, these polymers will shift their shape according to the conditions around them to form ellipsoidal or tubular structures that can encapsulate drugs. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

“The preliminary evidence shows that these natural-shaped nanoparticles easily enter the cells than spherical ones”, says a senior author, Professor Pall Thordarson of the UNSW School of Chemistry.

The scientists worked on the polymer molecules that contain a water-soluble portion and a non-water-soluble portion that could self-assemble into round, hollow structures known as polymersomes.

Polymersomes are chemically versatile, highly stable, and have the ability to alter their shapes. However, the only difficulty, the scientists are facing is controlling their shape. The team is working to resolve the issue by adding non-water-soluble perylene polymer group to the polymersome membrane. The size and the shape of the polymersome can be then be adjusted by changing the amount of water in the solvent.

Professor Martina Stenzel said that the study has a great potential for making a wide range of complex polymer structures that can enter tumour cells more easily.