Bioengineered robust hybrid hydrogels enrich the stability and efficacy of biological drugs

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Biological drugs are exquisitely tailored components offering the advantages of high specificity and efficacy that are considered safe for treating diseases. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of biological drugs is limited by their inherent short biological half-life and poor stability in vivo. Herein, we engineered a novel delivery platform based on hybrid injectable hydrogels, in which pH- and temperature-responsive biodegradable copolymers were site-specifically coupled to the sulfhydryl group of human serum albumin, which effectively enhances the stability and circulation half-life of the biological drug, recombinant uricase enzyme (Uox). The albumin ligand conjugated to the Uox allowed specific-binding of the enzyme within the protein shell, and the synthetic polymers effectively shield the protein-enzyme complex. Such close confinement exhibits strong resistance towards various physical, chemical and therapeutically relevant stressors such as temperature, pH and proteases. Subcutaneous administration of Uox-loaded bioengineered hybrid hydrogel improved the pharmacokinetics by prolonging its circulation half-life. As a consequence, the bioengineered hybrid hydrogel normalized the serum uric acid level in hypoxanthine/potassium oxonate-induced hyperuricemia mice, and no obvious side effects were observed in the major organs. The characteristic of the bioengineered hydrogel networks applicable to a variety of biological drugs by simple mixing that unlock the possibility of adapting biological drugs to therapeutic applications.

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