Magnetic field triggered drug release from polymersomes for cancer therapeutics

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Local and temporal control of drug release has for long been a main focus in the development of novel drug carriers. Polymersomes, which can load both hydrophilic and hydrophobic species and, at the same time, be tailored to respond to a desired stimulus, have drawn much attention over the last decade. Here we describe polymersomes able to encapsulate up to 6% (w/w) of doxorubicin (DOX) together with 30% (w/w) of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (USPIO; γ-Fe2O3). Upon internalization in HeLa cells and when a high frequency AC magnetic field (14 mT at 750 kHz) was applied, the developed delivery system elicited an 18% increase in cell toxicity, associated with augmented DOX release kinetics. In order to ensure that the observed cytotoxicity arose from the increased doxorubicin release and not from a pure magnetic hyperthermia effect, polymersomes loaded with magnetic nanoparticles alone were also tested. In this case, no increased toxicity was observed. We hypothesize that the magnetic field is inducing a very local hyperthermia effect at the level of the polymersome membrane, increasing drug release. This approach opens new perspectives in the development of smart delivery systems able to release drug upon demand and therefore, improving treatment control.Graphical abstractWhen exposed to a high frequency magnetic field, internalized hybrid polymersomes (loaded with doxorubicin and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles) are able to trigger intracellular drug release and increase cytotoxicity.

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