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Polymersomes as Carriers for Genetic and Protein Therapeutics

David A. Christian1, Shenshen Cai1, Diana M. Bowen1, Younghoon Kim1, J. David Pajerowski2, and Dennis E. Discher1. (1) Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Room 129 Towne Building, 220 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6393, (2) Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Room 129 Towne Building, 220 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6393

Polymersomes are polymer-based vesicular shells that form upon hydration of PEG-based amphiphilic block copolymers. These high molecular weight amphiphiles impart physicochemical properties that allow polymersomes to stably encapsulate or integrate a broad range of active molecules as well as to circulate for several hours in vivo (t1/2 ~ 20 hours). This robustness together with recently described mechanisms for controlled breakdown of degradable polymersomes as well as escape from endolysosomes suggests that polymersomes might be usefully viewed as having structure/property/function relationships somewhere between lipid vesicles and viral capsids. Here we describe the assembly and development of polymersomes to encapsulate and deliver genetic (i.e. siRNA and AON) and protein therapeutics.