Curdlan 1,3-Beta-Glucans: A New Platform for Polymer Drug Delivery
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1,3-β-glucans are a class of natural polysaccharides with unique pharmacological properties and the ability to form triple helical structures and resilient gels. Curdlan and other 1,3-β-glucans have found application pharmacologically in the treatment of cancers and acceleration of wound healing in humans and in the impartation of infection resistance in animal husbandry. Structurally, these polysaccharides have found application in food science as thermal gels, in nanostructure formation as helical scaffolds, and in drug delivery as nanocarriers for drugs and as inclusion complexes with polynucleotides. A literature review of the important work on Curdlan research reveals two streams of research: investigation of the pharmacological significance of these polymers and their application in increasing host immunocompetency and investigation of the nature of the triple helix and its application in a variety of fields from food gels to drug delivery. Two significant contributions to the field of Curdlan research have been completed including 1) The development of a Curdlan nanoparticle drug delivery platform and 2) A new multi-component liquid crystalline hydrogel providing a new route to form polynucleotide inclusion complexes with Curdlan for gene delivery. The developed nanoparticle platform exhibited high encapsulation of chemotherapeutic drugs and a 24-hour controlled release with a particle size of 109.9 nm. The liquid crystalline hydrogel exhibited homogeneous inclusion of DNA into amorphous and crystalline phases of Curdlan and delayed and triggered release of polynucleotide content. This work has been a significant demonstration of the potential of Curdlan as a new polymer for multi-functional drug delivery.