Injectable biodegradable hydrogels from vitamin D-functionalized polycarbonates for the delivery of Avastin with enhanced therapeutic efficiency against metastatic colorectal cancer
Humanized vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody (bevacizumab; Avastin) is a highly effective monoclonal antibody against metastatic colorectal cancer and several other advanced late stage cancers. However, limited aqueous solubility and short circulation half-life of the antibody result in long infusion time (30-90 min) and frequent injections. Such direful medical procedures often cause considerable patient inconvenience and prolonged pharmacy preparation. Subcutaneous delivery of Avastin using injectable hydrogels can continuously provide Avastin to treat the malignancy and mitigate antibody degradation. In this study, ABA triblock copolymers of vitamin D-functionalized polycarbonate and poly(ethylene glycol), that is, VDm-PEG-VDm were synthesized and employed to form physically cross-linked injectable hydrogels for encapsulation and subcutaneous delivery of Avastin in a sustained fashion. Antitumor studies were performed using two different HCT116 xenograft mouse models: a subcutaneous and an intraperitoneal metastatic tumor models. The therapeutic efficacy of Avastin-loaded hydrogel injected subcutaneously (s.c.) was compared to an Avastin solution injected via either intravenous (i.v.) or intraperitoneal (i.p.) route. In the subcutaneous tumor model, the Avastin-loaded hydrogel resulted in greater tumor suppression as compared to i.v. and i.p. administration of Avastin solution. The biodistribution pattern of the hydrogel delivery system was also different from the other formulations as there was significantly higher accumulation in the tumor tissue and lesser accumulation within the liver and kidneys as compared to Avastin delivered through i.v. and i.p. administration. Furthermore, in vivo studies carried out on mice with peritoneal metastasis demonstrated that Avastin-loaded hydrogel and weekly administration of Avastin solution resulted in higher survival (87 and 77% over 62 days, respectively) when compared to the control, blank hydrogel and bolus Avastin solution (i.v.; 50-60%). The antimetastatic activity of Avastin delivered using a one-time injection of the hydrogel was as effective as that of 4× weekly injections (i.v.) of Avastin. The reduced injection frequency provided by the subcutaneous formulation may enhance patient convenience and compliance for metastatic cancer therapy.