Block copolymer micelles for drug delivery: design, characterization and biological significance

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2001 Mar 23;47(1):113-31. doi: 10.1016/s0169-409x(00)00124-1.


Recently, colloidal carrier systems have been receiving much attention in the field of drug targeting because of their high loading capacity for drugs as well as their unique disposition characteristics in the body. This paper highlights the utility of polymeric micelles formed through the multimolecular assembly of block copolymers as novel core-shell typed colloidal carriers for drug and gene targeting. The process of micellization in aqueous milieu is described in detail based on differences in the driving force of core segregation, including hydrophobic interaction, electrostatic interaction, metal complexation, and hydrogen bonding of constituent block copolymers. The segregated core embedded in the hydrophilic palisade is shown to function as a reservoir for genes, enzymes, and a variety of drugs with diverse characteristics. Functionalization of the outer surface of the polymeric micelle to modify its physicochemical and biological properties is reviewed from the standpoint of designing micellar carrier systems for receptor-mediated drug delivery. Further, the distribution of polymeric micelles is described to demonstrate their long-circulating characteristics and significant tumor accumulation, emphasizing their promising utility in tumor-targeting therapy. As an important perspective on carrier systems based on polymeric micelles, their feasibility as non-viral gene vectors is also summarized in this review article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / administration & dosage
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Excipients / administration & dosage
  • Excipients / chemistry*
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors / chemistry
  • Lactates / administration & dosage
  • Lactates / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Micelles*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Polymers / administration & dosage
  • Polymers / chemistry*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Drug Carriers
  • Excipients
  • Lactates
  • Micelles
  • Polymers
  • poly(lactic acid-ethylene glycol)
  • Polyethylene Glycols