Washington, January 13 (ANI): A team of chemical engineers claims to have created a tiny particle syringe from polymer layers and nanoparticles, which they say may be very effective in delivering drugs to diseased cells without harming the rest of the body.
The researchers insist that the resulting delivery system could be robust and flexible enough to deliver a variety of substances.
"People probably fear the effects of some treatments more than they fear the disease they treat. The drugs are poison. Treatment is a matter of dosage so that it kills the cancer and not the patient. Targeted treatment becomes very important," says Huda A. Jerri, graduate student, chemical engineering.
Newer approaches to drug delivery include particles that find specific cells, latch on and release their drugs. Another approach allows the cells to engulf the particles, taking them into the cell and releasing the drug.
However, such delivery systems are too complicated to be implemented.
The Penn State researchers claim that their approach produces a more universal delivery system, a tiny spherical container averaging less than 5 microns or the diameter of the smallest pollen grains.
Reporting their results online in Soft Matter, the researchers have revealed that the spheres are formed around solid microparticles that are either the drug to be delivered, or a substance that can be removed later leaving a hollow sphere for liquid drugs.
Alternating positive and negative layers of material form the microcapsules.
The researchers have revealed that the capsules are created while attached to a flat surface so that the section of the sphere touching the surface is not coated, leaving about 5 percent of the surface as an escape area for the drugs.
The microcapsule, excluding the exit hole, is then covered in a slippery, non-stick barrier coating.
"These are not the first microcapsules for drug delivery developed, but a previous attempt had surfaces that stuck together and clumped. We also designed the tiny hole in the sphere for controlled delivery and that is a new development," says Velegol.
While targeted drug delivery systems release their drug from the moment they enter the body, the microsyringes release material continuously only from the tiny hole in their surface and not from the other 95 percent of the sphere's surface.
The researchers say that this will concentrate the drug at the target, and reduce the amount of toxins circulating in the body.
"These particles are delivery vessels to which you can add whatever you want when you need it. Drugs can be either solid -- incorporated when the capsules are made -- or liquid -- filled later. Chemicals that target the diseased cells can be attached in a variety of ways," says Jerri.
The researchers even said that the microsyringes could be manufactured and stored until needed.
"The masking process used to manufacture these microcapsules is relatively inexpensive, current technology and is scalable.
This means they could be mass produced," says Velegol.(ANI)