Engineering dual-stimuli responsive poly(vinyl alcohol) nanofibrous membranes for cancer treatment by magnetic hyperthermia

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The development of new cancer treatment options, such as multifunctional devices, allows for a more personalized treatment, avoiding the known severe side effects of conventional options. In this context, on-demand drug delivery systems can actively control the rate of drug release offering a precise control of treatment. Magnetically and thermally controlled drug delivery systems have been explored as on-demand devices to treat chronic diseases and cancer tumors. In the present work, dual-stimuli responsive systems were developed by incorporating Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) and poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) microgels into electrospun polymeric fibers for application in cancer treatment. First, Fe3O4 NPs with an average diameter of 8 nm were synthesized by chemical precipitation technique and stabilized with dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) or oleic acid (OA). PNIPAAm microgels were synthesized by surfactant-free emulsion polymerization (SFEP). Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) was used as a fiber template originating fibers with an average diameter of 179 ± 14 nm. Stress tests of the membranes showed that incorporating both microgels and Fe3O4 NPs in electrospun fibers increases their Young's modulus. Swelling assays indicate that PVA membranes have a swelling ratio of around 3.4 (g/g) and that the presence of microgels does not affect its swelling ability. However, with the incorporation of Fe3O4 NPs, the swelling ratio of the membranes decreases. Magnetic hyperthermia assays show that a higher concentration of NPs leads to a higher heating ability. The composite membrane with the most promising results is the one incorporated with DMSA-coated NPs, since it shows the highest temperature variation, 5.1 °C. To assess the membranes biocompatibility and ability to promote cell proliferation, indirect and direct contact cell viability assays were performed, as well as cell adhesion assays. Following an extract method viability assay, all membrane designs did not reveal cytotoxic effects on dermal fibroblasts and melanoma cancer cells, after 48 h exposure and support long-term viability. The present work demonstrates the potential of dual-stimuli composite membranes for magnetic hyperthermia and may in the future be used as an alternative cancer treatment particularly in anatomically reachable solid tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213275
Number of pages13
JournalBiomaterials advances
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Cancer
  • Magnetic hyperthermia
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nanotheranostics
  • Thermoresponsive microgel


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