CO2-based amphiphilic polycarbonate micelles enable a reliable and efficient platform for tumor imaging.

PMID 29187896


Biodegradable polymeric nanomaterials can be directly broken down by intracellular processes, offering a desirable way to solve toxicity issues for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Among them, aliphatic polycarbonates are approved for application in biological fields by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, high hydrophobicity, deficient functionality and improper degradation offer significant room for improvement in these materials. To achieve progress in this direction, herein, we demonstrate that CO2-based amphiphilic polycarbonates (APC) with improved hydrophilicity and processability can be used as a reliable and efficient platform for tumor imaging. To better investigate their potential, we devised a convenient strategy through conjugation of APC with gadolinium (Gd). The resulting polymeric micelles (APC-DTPA/Gd) exhibit excellent magnetic resonance imaging performance, simultaneously enabling real-time visualization of bioaccumulation and decomposition of polymeric micelles in vivo. Importantly, these micelles can be degraded to renally cleared products within a reasonable timescale without evidence of toxicity. Our findings may help the development of CO2-based amphiphilic polycarbonate for cancer diagnosis and treatment, accompanied by their low-toxicity degradation pathway.

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