Amphiphilic polysaccharides as building blocks for self-assembled nanosystems: molecular design and application in cancer and inflammatory diseases

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Polysaccharides (PSs) have been extensively studied in healthcare applications; here, we focus our attention on their use as components of nanomaterials in the management of cancer and inflammatory pathologies. Key advantages of PSs are easy availability, general biodegradability and biocompatibility, low or negligible toxicity, often a low immunogenicity and finally an ease of chemical modification. Here, we pay particular attention to the large family of amphiphilic PS derivatives (AMPDs); they are synthesized by modifying hydrophilic PSs with a variety of hydrophobic groups, which allow the constructs to self-assemble into various nanostructures in aqueous solution. This review focuses on AMPD-based self-assembled nanoparticles, from the chemical synthesis of AMPDs, through nanoparticle preparative strategies, to the most recent applications in cancer and inflammation management, including therapeutics, imaging and theranostics. We also offer an overview, which we feel lacks in the current literature, of the relation between the nature of the hydrophilic PSs and that of the hydrophobic components, of linkers, targeting groups and cross-linkers, and of the actual properties and in vivo fate of AMPD-based nanoparticles. Finally, we believe that this comprehensive insight into the possible effects of AMPDs’ structural components on the performance of nanosystems, can provide criteria for a rational and molecular level-based design of AMPDs. (Journal of Controlled Release. Volume 272, 28 February 2018, Pages 114-144.)

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