Biodegradable PLGA-b-PEG polymeric nanoparticles: synthesis, properties, and nanomedical applications as drug delivery system



During the past decades many synthetic polymers have been studied for nanomedicine applications and in particular as drug delivery systems. For this purpose, polymers must be non-toxic, biodegradable, and biocompatible. Polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) is one of the most studied polymers due to its complete biodegradability and ability to self-assemble into nanometric micelles that are able to entrap small molecules like drugs and to release them into body in a time-dependent manner. Despite fine qualities, using PLGA polymeric nanoparticles for in vivo applications still remains an open challenge due to many factors such as poor stability in water, big diameter (150–200 nm), and the removal of these nanocarriers from the blood stream by the liver and spleen thus reducing the concentration of drugs drastically in tumor tissue. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is the most used polymers for drug delivery applications and the first PEGylated product is already on the market for over 20 years. This is due to its stealth behavior that inhibits the fast recognition by the immune system (opsonization) and generally leads to a reduced blood clearance of nanocarriers increasing blood circulation time. Furthermore, PEG is hydrophilic and able to stabilize nanoparticles by steric and not ionic effects especially in water. PLGA–PEG block copolymer is an emergent system because it can be easily synthesized and it possesses all good qualities of PLGA and also PEG capability so in the last decade it arose as one of the most promising systems for nanoparticles formation, drug loading, and in vivo drug delivery applications. This review will discuss briefly on PLGA-b-PEG synthesis and physicochemical properties, together with its improved qualities with respect to the single PLGA and PEG polymers. Moreover, we will focus on but in particular will treat nanoparticles formation and uses as new drug delivery system for nanomedical applications.


Polymeric nanoparticles Nanomedicine Polyesters 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Chimica Industriale Toso MontanariUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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