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Journal of Pharmaceutics
Volume 2013, Article ID 932797, 10 pages
Research Article

Biodegradable Polymersomes for the Delivery of Gemcitabine to Panc-1 Cells

1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
2Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA
3Department of Neuroscience, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA
4Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
5Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
6Department of Chemistry, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Received 23 February 2013; Accepted 22 April 2013

Academic Editor: Umesh Gupta

Copyright © 2013 Nimil Sood et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Traditional anticancer chemotherapy often displays toxic side effects, poor bioavailability, and a low therapeutic index. Targeting and controlled release of a chemotherapeutic agent can increase drug bioavailability, mitigate undesirable side effects, and increase the therapeutic index. Here we report a polymersome-based system to deliver gemcitabine to Panc-1 cells in vitro. The polymersomes were self-assembled from a biocompatible and completely biodegradable polymer, poly(ethylene oxide)-poly(caprolactone), PEO-PCL. We showed that we can encapsulate gemcitabine within stable 200 nm vesicles with a 10% loading efficiency. These vesicles displayed a controlled release of gemcitabine with 60% release after 2 days at physiological pH. Upon treatment of Panc-1 cells in vitro, vesicles were internalized as verified with fluorescently labeled polymersomes. Clonogenic assays to determine cell survival were performed by treating Panc-1 cells with varying concentrations of unencapsulated gemcitabine (FreeGem) and polymersome-encapsulated gemcitabine (PolyGem) for 48 hours. 1 μM PolyGem was equivalent in tumor cell toxicity to 1 μM FreeGem, with a one log cell kill observed. These studies suggest that further investigation on polymersome-based drug formulations is warranted for chemotherapy of pancreatic cancer.