Drug delivery systems capable of local sustained release of small molecule therapeutics remain a critical need in many fields, including oncology. Here, a system to create tunable hydrogels capable of modulating the loading and release of cationic small molecule therapeutics was developed. Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is a sulfated glycosaminoglycan that has many promising properties, including biocompatibility, biodegradation and chemically modifiable groups for both covalent and non-covalent bonding. CS was covalently modified with photocrosslinkable methacryloyl groups (CSMA) to develop an injectable hydrogel fabrication. Utilizing anionic groups, cationic drugs can be adsorbed and released from the hydrogels. This study demonstrates the synthesis of CSMA with a varying degree of substitution (DS) to generate hydrogels with varying swelling properties, maximum injection force, and drug release kinetics. The DS of the synthesized CSMA ranged from 0.05 ± 0.02 (2 h reaction) to 0.28 ± 0.02 (24 h reaction) with a DS of 1 representing 100% modification. The altered DS resulted in changes in hydrogel properties with the swelling of 20% CSMA hydrogels ranging from 42 (2 h reaction) to 13 (24 h reaction) and injection forces ranging from 18 N (2 h reaction) to 94 N (24 h reaction). The release of sunitinib, an oncology therapeutic that inhibits intracellular signaling by targeting multiple receptor tyrosine kinases, ranged from 18 μg per day (2 h reaction) to 9 μg per day (24 h reaction). While decreasing the DS increased the hydrogel swelling and rate of therapeutic release, it also limited the hydrogel fabrication range to only those containing 10% or higher CSMA. Blended polymer systems with poly(vinyl alcohol)-methacrylate (PVAMA) were fabricated to stabilize the resulting hydrogels via attenuating the swelling properties. Release profiles previously unattainable with the pure CSMA hydrogels were achieved with the blended hydrogel formulations. Overall, these studies identify a method to formulate tunable CSMA and blended CSMA/PVAMA hydrogels capable of sustained release of cationic therapeutics over six weeks with applications in oncology therapeutics.
Ornell, K., Lozada, D., Phan, N., & Coburn, J. (2019). Controlling methacryloyl substitution of chondroitin sulfate: injectable hydrogels with tunable long-term drug release profiles. Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 7(13), 2151–2161. https://doi.org/10.1039/c8tb03020k
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author