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Polymers 2016, 8(3), 83;

Decorating Nanoparticle Surface for Targeted Drug Delivery: Opportunities and Challenges

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Polymer Program, Institute of Materials Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Institute of Materials Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sebastien Lecommandoux
Received: 31 January 2016 / Revised: 25 February 2016 / Accepted: 1 March 2016 / Published: 17 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Modeling and Simulation in Polymer)
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The size, shape, stiffness (composition) and surface properties of nanoparticles (NPs) have been recognized as key design parameters for NP-mediated drug delivery platforms. Among them, the surface functionalization of NPs is of great significance for targeted drug delivery. For instance, targeting moieties are covalently coated on the surface of NPs to improve their selectively and affinity to cancer cells. However, due to a broad range of possible choices of surface decorating molecules, it is difficult to choose the proper one for targeted functions. In this work, we will review several representative experimental and computational studies in selecting the proper surface functional groups. Experimental studies reveal that: (1) the NPs with surface decorated amphiphilic polymers can enter the cell interior through penetrating pathway; (2) the NPs with tunable stiffness and identical surface chemistry can be selectively accepted by the diseased cells according to their stiffness; and (3) the NPs grafted with pH-responsive polymers can be accepted or rejected by the cells due to the local pH environment. In addition, we show that computer simulations could be useful to understand the detailed physical mechanisms behind these phenomena and guide the design of next-generation NP-based drug carriers with high selectivity, affinity, and low toxicity. For example, the detailed free energy analysis and molecular dynamics simulation reveals that amphiphilic polymer-decorated NPs can penetrate into the cell membrane through the “snorkeling” mechanism, by maximizing the interaction energy between the hydrophobic ligands and lipid tails. We anticipate that this work will inspire future studies in the design of environment-responsive NPs for targeted drug delivery. View Full-Text
Keywords: drug delivery; nanoparticle; surface decorating; smart polymer drug delivery; nanoparticle; surface decorating; smart polymer

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Shen, Z.; Nieh, M.-P.; Li, Y. Decorating Nanoparticle Surface for Targeted Drug Delivery: Opportunities and Challenges. Polymers 2016, 8, 83.

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