Synthetic polymers encapsulate a wide range of payloads
Advancements in chemistry have led to the discovery of many promising new drug candidates, however, nearly 90% of these molecules are poorly water soluble, leading to their inability to transition from discovery to clinic. Delivery-based strategies such as nanoparticles can improve the solubility of hydrophobic drugs and can interact with biological systems at the cellular level and polymeric nanoparticles have advanced greatly for such applications due to their wide range of uses.
Research on synthetic polymers has demonstrated their ability to encapsulate and deliver a wide variety of biomolecules. Amongst these polymers, polylactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is one of the most widely used for drug delivery as it is biocompatible and biodegradable. Furthermore, PLGA has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medical Agency (EMA) for use in parenteral delivery system; they have also been found to be effective via other routes including intramuscular, intranasal, and oral administration. Today, PLGA-based nanoparticles are being investigated not only for the delivery of hydrophobic small molecules, but also for vaccine antigens, and macromolecules such as peptides, proteins, and oligonucleotides.
The use of PLGA nanoparticles for clinical applications has been largely limited by challenges in manufacturing at both small and large scales. Microfluidic mixing has overcome these challenges and demonstrated a new flexibility in tuning and working with polymeric nanoparticles.