Docetaxel (DCTX) and paclitaxel (PTX) are very potent anti-cancer drugs, but the currently marketed formulations, Taxotere?? and Taxol??, respectively, are associated with vehicle-related toxicity. An attractive alternative to formulate these hydrophobic cytotoxic agents are polymeric micelles. In this study, the loading of taxanes into oligomeric micelles composed of mPEG750-b-oligo(??-caprolactone)5 (mPEG750-b-OCL5) with a hydroxyl (OH), benzoyl (Bz) or naphthoyl (Np) end group was investigated. Next, the release characteristics and cytotoxicity of the loaded micelles were studied. MPEG750-b-OCL5-OH micelles loaded with taxanes formed unstable particles with rapid leakage of the drug. In contrast, the presence of an aromatic end group (Bz or Np) resulted in the formation of small (10 nm), almost monodisperse micelles with stable encapsulation of 10% (w/w) of PTX or DCTX. This was ascribed to a better compatibility between the micellar core and the drug as compared to the oligomers with the hydroxyl end group. 1H NMR studies showed that the micellar core was liquid, and that PTX was molecularly dissolved in the core. The in vitro stability was studied in PBS at 37 ??C, which showed that leakage of PTX from 10% and 5% (w/w) loaded mPEG750-b-OCL5-Bz micelles started after 8 and 24 h, respectively. The presence of albumin did not affect the stability, suggesting that the micelles are not destabilised and the drug was not extracted from the micellar core by this protein. The in vitro cytotoxic effect of the taxane-loaded micelles on C26 carcinoma cells was comparable to that of the commercial formulations, but the empty micelles were far less toxic than the Cremophor EL?? vehicle. The results show that mPEG-b-oligo(??-caprolactone) micelles hold good promise for the formulation of taxanes. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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