The advent of nanotechnology is revolutionizing drug delivery in terms of improving drug efficacy and safety. Both polymer-based and lipid-based drug-loaded nanocarriers have demonstrated clinical benefit. However, to further address the multifaceted drug delivery challenges and further expand the spectrum of therapeutic applications, hybrid lipid-polymer nanocomposites have been designed to merge the beneficial features of both polymeric drug delivery systems and liposomes in a single nanocarrier. The present project aims to develop novel hybrid phospholipid-based vesicles characterized by a viscoelastic internal core. In particular, it intends to define the optimal experimental conditions for gelation of the internal core of liposomes in order to maximize the stability of the resulting hybrid nanocarrier.
This aim will be pursued encapsulating polyethylene glycol-dimethacrylate (PEG-DMA) in the fluid aqueous compartment of liposomes of different composition, with the intent to convert their liquid inner compartment into a soft and elastic hydrogel. The effect of the molecular weight of PEG-DMA on the principal properties of the hybrid nanosystems will be investigated. Varying the molecular weight of PEG-DMA also its hydrophilic/lipophilic balance will be modified, for this reason, a different localization of the polymer within the structure of liposomes and a different interaction with their membrane may be expected. Therefore, the effect of the presence of the polymer and the length of its oxyethylene chain will be carefully studied in order to have insight into the stability and permeability of gel-core liposomes respect to conventional vesicles.