Our recent publication Macromolecular prodrugs of ribavirin: Polymer backbone defines blood safety, drug release, and efficacy of anti-inflammatory effects has been published in Journal of Controlled Release.
Macromolecular (pro)drugs hold much promise as broad-spectrum antiviral agents as either microbicides or carriers for intracellular delivery of antiviral drugs. Intriguing opportunity exists in combining the two modes of antiviral activity in the same polymer structure such that the same polymer acts as a microbicide and also serves to deliver the conjugated drug (ribavirin) into the cells. We explore this opportunity in detail and focus on the polymer backbone as a decisive constituent of such formulations. Fourteen polyanions (polycarboxylates, polyphosphates and polyphosphonates, and polysulfonates) were analyzed for blood pro/anti coagulation effects, albumin binding and albumin aggregation, inhibitory activity on polymerases, cytotoxicity, and anti-inflammatory activity in stimulated macrophages. Ribavirin containing monomers were designed to accommodate the synthesis of macromolecular prodrugs with disulfide-exchange triggered drug release. Kinetics of drug release was fast in all cases however enhanced hydrophobicity of the polymer significantly slowed release of ribavirin. Results of this study present a comprehensive view on polyanions as backbone for macromolecular prodrugs of ribavirin as broad-spectrum antiviral agents.