Enhancing the targeting ability of nanoparticles via protected copolymers
It is important to maintain the balance between therapeutic efficiency and cytotoxicity when using nanomaterials for biomedical applications. Here, we propose a new method (i.e., non-covalent coating of protected copolymers onto the nanoparticle surface) to enhance the active targeting of nanoparticles to the cancer cells by combining the dissipative particle dynamics simulation and in vitro experiments. When coating the protected copolymer onto the nanoparticle surface, the uptake efficiency could be greatly altered due to the competition between the copolymer–ligand interaction and the receptor–ligand interaction—the non-covalent coating is more efficient than the covalent coating. Furthermore, the effect of the physicochemical properties of the protected copolymer on the targeting ability of nanoparticles was also investigated. This study offers useful insight into the optimal design of nanocarriers in biomedicine.