Biomacromolecules, Vol.20, No.9, 3435-3444, 2019
Oxidation-Sensitive Polymersomes Based on Amphiphilic Diblock Copolypeptoids
Stimuli-responsive polymersomes formed by amphiphilic block copolymers have attracted substantial attention as smart and robust containers for drug delivery and nano/microreactors. Biosourced amphiphilic diblock copolypeptoids were developed that can self-assemble into oxidation-responsive unilamellar vesicles. These vesicles can burst under the action of reactive oxygen species which can be the hydrogen peroxide or the singlet oxygen produced by light-activation of a photosensitizer with spatiotemporal control. Polysarcosine (PSar, also called poly(N-methyl glycine)) was selected as the hydrophilic block because of its resistance to protein adsorption and low toxicity, similar to poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). We designed and synthesized poly(N-3-(methylthio)propyl glycine) as the hydrophobic block. Its polyglycine backbone is the same as that of PSar, and especially, its hydrophobic N-substituents, thioether side chains, can be oxidized to hydrophilic sulfoxides. These oxidation-responsive polymersomes entirely based on N-substituted poly(amino acid)s were biocompatible as confirmed by cell viability tests and may find applications in drug delivery, biosensing, biodetection, and nano/microreactors.