The authors Radek Zboril and Jiri Tucek published article in Small.
Hybrid magnetic drug nanocarriers are prepared via a self-assembly process of poly(methacrylic acid)-graft-poly(ethyleneglycol methacrylate) (p(MAA-g-EGMA)) on growing iron oxide nanocrystallites. The nanocarriers successfully merge together bio-repellent properties, pronounced magnetic response, and high loading capacity for the potent anticancer drug doxorubicin (adriamicin), in a manner not observed before in such hybrid colloids. High magnetic responses are accomplished by engineering the size of the magnetic nanocrystallites (∼13.5 nm) following an aqueous single-ferrous precursor route, and through adjustment of the number of cores in each colloidal assembly. Complementing conventional magnetometry, the magnetic response of the nanocarriers is evaluated by magnetophoretic experiments providing insight into their internal organization and on their response to magnetic manipulation. The structural organization of the graft-copolymer, locked on the surface of the nanocrystallites, is further probed by small-angle neutron scattering on single-core colloids. Analysis showed that the MAA segments selectively populate the area around the magnetic nanocrystallites, while the poly(ethylene glycol)-grafted chains are arranged as protrusions, pointing towards the aqueous environment. These nanocarriers are screened at various pHs and in highly salted media by light scattering and electrokinetic measurements. According to the results, their stability is dramatically enhanced, as compared to uncoated nanocrystallites, owing to the presence of the external protective PEG canopy. The nanocarriers are also endowed with bio-repellent properties, as evidenced by stability assays using human blood plasma as the medium.