SAN FRANCISCO -- By using a process analogous to the way that tires and refrigerator doors are made, Cornell University materials engineers are hoping to find a new mechanism to deliver drugs to the human brain or bloodstream.
The difference is that the Cornell engineers, working under Emmanuel Giannelis, professor of materials science and engineering, are working with inorganic fillers, not in large clumps as in industry, but at close to the molecular level. By inducing chains of polymer molecules to slide between silicate layers, each a few atoms in thickness, they have produced a material, called a polyvinylalcohol (PVA) nanocomposite, that holds promise as an injectable drug delivery system.
"These biorelevant nanocomposites are important not only for drug release but perhaps also for tissue engineering," said Stephen Cypes, the Cornell undergraduate student who has been helping to develop the material since last year. He presented a poster-paper on his research at the American Chemical Society national meeting today (March 27) at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
Cypes, who is from Darnestown, Md., comes to this cutting-edge research at a very young age. He is only a sophomore at Cornell, majoring in chemical engineering and studying under the Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program, which supports the research. Also presenting a poster-paper today was Cornell junior Ruth Chen from Toronto, also a research scholar and Giannelis' student. Her research is in the area of developing new thermosensitive nanocomposite gels. Applications for these materials include drug delivery, enzyme carriers and chemical valves.
Giannelis noted that his work on drug-delivery materials has been influenced by his colleague, Cornell chemical engineering professor Mark Saltzman, an authority on the subject of drug delivery, who has developed pea-size pellets of a biocompatible polymer that could be used to deliver drugs to the body through
Contact: David Brand
Cornell University News Service