Issue 1, 2016

Stimuli-responsive polymersomes for cancer therapy


Cancer is the leading cause of mortality and remains a major challenge for modern chemotherapy. Recent advances in cancer therapy have made a modest impact on patient survival. Nanomedicine represents an innovative field with significant potential to improve cancer treatment. Nanomedicine utilizes numerous nanoconstructs, including polymersomes, micelles, and drug conjugates, to deliver therapeutic agents at the target site of interest. In particular, polymeric vesicles, also known as polymersomes, are self-assembled amphiphilic polymers in which an aqueous compartment is enclosed by a thick bilayer membrane. Unlike liposomes, polymersomes consist of high-molecular-weight amphiphilic polymer analogues. Since polymersomes are prepared using synthetic amphiphilic polymers, the bilayer membrane thickness can be readily altered by tuning the molecular weight of hydrophobic blocks. As a consequence, the polymersomes prepared from high-molecular-weight amphiphiles strengthen their membranes, making them inherently more stable than liposomes. The intriguing aggregation of polymersomes offers numerous advantages, including stability, tunable membrane properties, and the capability of encapsulating hydrophilic and hydrophobic agents. Owing to these properties, polymersomes are attractive candidates for various applications such as drug delivery, gene therapy, and tissue engineering. Although these properties have placed polymersomes at the forefront of drug delivery applications, to attain an enhanced therapeutic effect polymersomes are supposed to rapidly release the drug at the target site. To fulfill this requirement, stimuli-responsive polymersomes that respond to various internal or external stimuli have been developed. This review focuses on recently developed stimuli-responsive polymersomes and their potential application in cancer therapy.

Graphical abstract: Stimuli-responsive polymersomes for cancer therapy

Article information

Article type
Review Article
21 Jul 2015
25 Sep 2015
First published
12 Oct 2015

Biomater. Sci., 2016,4, 55-69

Author version available

Stimuli-responsive polymersomes for cancer therapy

T. Thambi, J. H. Park and D. S. Lee, Biomater. Sci., 2016, 4, 55 DOI: 10.1039/C5BM00268K

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