Control of aggregation temperatures in mixed and blended cytocompatible thermoresponsive block co-polymer nanoparticles†
A small library of thermoresponsive amphiphilic copolymers based on polylactide-block-poly((2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethyl methacrylate)-co-(oligoethylene glycol methacrylate)) (PLA-b-P(DEGMA)-co-(OEGMA)), was synthesised by copper-mediated controlled radical polymerisation (CRP) with increasing ratios of OEGMA : DEGMA. These polymers were combined in two ways to form nanoparticles with controllable thermal transition temperatures as measured by particle aggregation. The first technique involved the blending of two (PLA-b-P(DEGMA)-co-(OEGMA)) polymers together prior to assembling nanoparticles (NPs). The second method involved mixing pre-formed nanoparticles of single (PLA-b-P(DEGMA)-co-(OEGMA)) polymers. The observed critical aggregation temperature Tt did not change in a linear relationship with the ratios of each copolymer either in the nanoparticles blended from different copolymers or in the mixtures of pre-formed nanoparticles. However, where co-polymer mixtures were based on (OEG)9MA ratios within 5–10 mole%, a linear relationship between (OEG)9MA composition in the blends and Tt was obtained. The data suggest that OEGMA-based copolymers are tunable over a wide temperature range given suitable co-monomer content in the linear polymers or nanoparticles. Moreover, the thermal transitions of the nanoparticles were reversible and repeatable, with the cloud point curves being essentially invariant across at least three heating and cooling cycles, and a selected nanoparticle formulation was found to be readily endocytosed in representative cancer cells and fibroblasts.