The sustained delivery of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides using biodegradable polymer microspheres

  • Alim Khan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Antisense technology is a novel drug discovery method, which provides an essential tool for directly using gene sequence information to rationally design specific inhibitions of mRNA, to treat a wide range of diseases. The efficacy of naked oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) is relatively short lived due to rapid degradation in vivo. The entrapment of ODNs within biodegradable sustained-release delivery systems may improve ODN stability and reduce dose required for efficacy.
Biodegradable polymer microspheres were evaluated as delivery devices for ODNs and ribozymes. Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) polymers were used due to their biocompatibility and non toxic degradation products. Microspheres were prepared using a double emulsion-deposition method and the formulations characterised. In vitro release profiles were characterised by an initial burst effect during the first 48 hours of release followed by a more sustained release. The release profiles were influenced by microsphere size, copolymer molecular weight, copolymer ratio, ODN loading, ODN length, and ODN chemistry.
The serum stability of ODNs was significantly improved when entrapped within polymer microspheres. The cellular association of ODNs entrapped within small spheres (1-2μm) was improved by approximately 20-fold in A431 carcinoma cells compared with free ODNs. Fluorescence microscopy studies showed a more diffuse subcellular distribution when delivered as a microsphere formulation compared with free ODNs, which exhibited the characteristic punctate periplasmic distribution.
For in vivo evaluation, polymer microspheres containing fluorescently-labelled ODNs were stereo-taxically administered to the neostriatum of the rat brain. Free ODN resulted in a punctate cellular distribution after 24 hours. In comparison ODN delivered using polymer microspheres were intensely visible in cells 48 hours post administration, and fluorescence appeared to be diffuse covering both cytosolic and nuclear regions. Whole-body autoradiography was also used to evaluate the biodistribution of free tritium labelled ODN and ODN entrapped microspheres, following subcutaneous administration to Balb-C mice. Polymer entrapped ODN gave a similar biodistribution to free ODN. Free ODN was distributed within 24 hours, whereas polymer released ODN was observed still presented in organs and at the site of administration seven days post administration.
Date of AwardDec 1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSaghir Akhtar (Supervisor)


  • nucleic acids
  • controlled release
  • poly(lactide-co-glycolide)
  • drug delivery
  • stability

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