Polymers constitute a diverse class of macromolecules that have demonstrated their unique advantages to be utilized for drug or gene delivery applications. In particular, polymers with a highly ordered, hyperbranched structure"dendrons"offer significant benefits to the design of such nanomedicines. The incorporation of dendrons into block copolymer micelles can endow various unique properties that are not typically observed from linear polymer counterparts. Specifically, the dendritic structure induces the conical shape of unimers that form micelles, thereby improving the thermodynamic stability and achieving a low critical micelle concentration (CMC). Furthermore, through a high density of highly ordered functional groups, dendrons can enhance gene complexation, drug loading, and stimuli-responsive behavior. In addition, outward-branching dendrons can support a high density of nonfouling polymers, such as poly(ethylene glycol), for serum stability and variable densities of multifunctional groups for multivalent cellular targeting and interactions. In this paper, we review the design considerations for dendron-lipid nanoparticles and dendron micelles formed from amphiphilic block copolymers intended for gene transfection and cancer drug delivery applications. These technologies are early in preclinical development and, as with other nanomedicines, face many obstacles on the way to clinical adoption. Nevertheless, the utility of dendron micelles for drug delivery remains relatively underexplored, and we believe there are significant and dramatic advancements to be made in tumor targeting with these platforms.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Pharmaceutical Science
- Organic Chemistry