Self-Assembled, Biodegradable Magnetic Resonance Imaging Agents: Organic Radical-Functionalized Diblock Copolymers
We report the design, synthesis, and evaluation of biodegradable amphiphilic poly(ethylene glycol)-b-polycarbonate-based diblock copolymers containing pendant persistent organic radicals (e.g., PROXYL). These paramagnetic radical-functionalized polymers self-assemble into micellar nanoparticles in aqueous media, which preferentially accumulate in tumor tissue via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. Through T1 relaxation NMR studies, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies on mice, we show that these nanomaterials are effective as metal-free, biodegradable MRI contrast agents. We also demonstrate anticancer drugs can be readily loaded into the nanoparticles, conferring therapeutic delivery properties in addition to their imaging properties making these materials potential theranostic agents in the treatment of cancer.