Polymersomes represent a class of vesicles, tiny hollow spheres that enclose a solution. Polymersomes are made using amphiphilic synthetic block copolymers to form the vesicle membrane, and range in size with radii ranging from 50 nm to 5 um or more.. Most reported polymersomes contain an aqueous solution in their core and are useful for encapsulating and protecting sensitive molecules, such as drugs, enzymes, other proteins and peptides, and DNA and RNA fragments. The polymersome membrane provides a physical barrier that isolates the encapulated material from external materials, such as those found in biological systems. The term "polymersome" for vesicles made from block copolymers was coined in 1999
Polymersomes are similar to liposomes, which are formed from naturally occurring lipids. While having many of the properties of natural liposomes, polymersomes exhibit increased stability and reduced permeability. Furthermore, the use of synthetic polymers enables designers to manipulate the characteristics of the membrane and thus control permeability, release rates, stability and other properties of the polymersome.
In the case of diblock, comb and dendronized copolymers the polymersome membrane has the same bilayer morphology of a liposome, with the hydrophobic blocks of the two layers facing each other in the interior of the membrane. In the case of triblock copolymers the membrane is a monolayer that mimics a bilayer, the central block filling the role of the two facing hydrophobic blocks of a bilayer.
Polymersomes have been used to create candidate controlled release drug delivery systems.
Similar to coating liposomes with polyethylene glycol, polymersomes can be made invisible to the immune system if the hydrophilic block consists of polyethylene glycol. Thus, polymersomes are useful carriers for targeted medication.
For in vivo applications, polymersomes are de facto limited to the use of FDA-approved polymers as most pharmaceutical firms are unlikely to develop novel polymers due to cost issues. Fortunately there are a number of such polymers available, with varying properties, including:
If enough of the block copolymer molecules that make up a polymersome are cross-linked, the polymersome can be made into a transportable powder.
WIPO PUBLISHES PATENT OF UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT FOR "CO-FLOW MICROFLUIDIC DEVICE FOR POLYMERSOME FORMATION" (AMERICAN INVENTORS)
Feb 17, 2012; GENEVA, Feb. 17 -- Publication No. WO/2012/021838 was published on Feb. 16. Title of the invention: "CO-FLOW MICROFLUIDIC DEVICE...