John Garner

PEG-PLA from PolySciTech used as part of development of hypoxia targeted pancreatic cancer drug delivery system

Blog Post created by John Garner on Jun 21, 2016

PolySciTech division of Akina, Inc ( provides a wide array of biodegradable block copolymers. Recently, researchers at North Dakota State University purchased mPEG-PLLA (2000-5000Da) (PolyVivo AK004). They used this well characterized polymer as a control to generate ‘typical’ polymersomes loaded with gemcitabine (a nucleoside analog) and erlotinib (a tyrosine kinase) for pancreatic cancer treatment. They compared this against ‘responsive’ polymersomes made with their developed hypoxia-targeted system. Read more: Kulkarni, Prajakta, Manas K. Haldar, Seungyong You, Yongki Choi, and Sanku Mallik. "Hypoxia-responsive polymersomes for drug delivery to hypoxic pancreatic cancer cells." Biomacromolecules (2016).


“Abstract: Hypoxia in the tumors contributes to overall tumor progression by assisting in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, angiogenesis, and metastasis of cancer. In this study, we have synthesized a hypoxia-responsive, di-block copolymer polylactic acid-azobenzene-polyethylene glycol, which self-assembles to form polymersomes in an aqueous medium. The polymersomes were stable under normoxic conditions. However, under hypoxia, 90% of the encapsulated dye was released in 50 minutes. The polymersomes encapsulated the combination of anticancer drugs gemcitabine and erlotinib with entrapment efficiency of 40% and 28% respectively. We used the three-dimensional spheroid cultures of the pancreatic cancer cells BxPC-3 to demonstrate hypoxia-mediated release of the drugs from the polymersomes. The vesicles were non-toxic. However, a significant decrease in cell viability was observed in hypoxic spheroidal cultures of BxPC-3 cells in the presence of drug encapsulated polymersomes. These polymersomes have the potential for further applications in imaging and treatment of hypoxic tumors.”