Injectable drug-delivery systems based on supramolecular hydrogels formed by poly(ethylene oxide)s and alpha-cyclodextrin.
Polymeric hydrogels long have attracted interest for biomaterials applications because of their generally favorable biocompatibility. High in water content, they are particularly attractive for delivery of delicate bioactive agents, such as proteins. However, because they require covalent crosslinking for gelation, many hydrogels can be applied only as implantables, and incorporation of drugs by sorption may be time-consuming and limiting with regard to the loading level. Therefore a delivery formulation where gelation and drug loading can be achieved simultaneously, taking place in an aqueous environment and without covalent crosslinking, would be attractive. Herein is described a new class of injectable and bioabsorbable supramolecular hydrogels formed from poly(ethylene oxide)s (PEOs) and alpha-cyclodextrin (alpha-CD) for controlled drug delivery. The hydrogel formation is based on physical crosslinking induced by supramolecular self-assembling with no chemical crosslinking reagent involved. The supramolecular structure of the hydrogels was confirmed with wide-angle X-ray diffraction studies. The gelation kinetics was found to be dependent on the concentrations of the polymer and alpha-CD as well as on the molecular weight of the PEO used. The rheologic studies of the hydrogels showed that the hydrogels were thixotropic and reversible and that they could be injected through fine needles. The components of the supramolecular hydrogels potentially are biocompatible and nontoxic. Drugs can be encapsulated directly into the hydrogels in situ at room temperature without any contact with organic solvents. The supramolecular hydrogels were evaluated in terms of their in vitro release kinetics. The rate-controlling mechanism of macromolecular drug release might be the erosion of the hydrogels.
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