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"Smart", dual pH-responsive, and endosomolytic polymeric nanoparticles have demonstrated great potential for localized drug delivery, especially for siRNA delivery to the cytoplasm of cells. However, targeted delivery to a specific cell phenotype requires an additional level of functionality. Copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) is a highly selective bioconjugation reaction that can be performed in conjunction with other polymerization techniques without adversely affecting reaction kinetics, but there exists some concern for residual copper causing cytotoxicity. To alleviate these concerns, we evaluated conjugation efficiency, residual copper content, and cell viability in relation to copper catalyst concentration. Our results demonstrated an optimal range for minimizing cytotoxicity while maintaining high levels of conjugation efficiency, and these conditions produced polymers with increased targeting to M2-polarized macrophages, as well as successful delivery of therapeutic siRNA that reprogrammed the macrophages to a proinflammatory phenotype.
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