Nanostructures for drug delivery

implantation. (Saltzman today moderated a panel on the subject of drug delivery at the ACS meeting and presented an overview of the subject taken from his forthcoming book, Drug Delivery, which is being published later this year by Oxford University Press.)

"The Saltzman group has expertise in taking polymers, impregnating them with drugs and implanting them into animals," said Giannelis. "We asked, can we take these materials and improve them with better control of their drug-release characteristics? They also need better mechanical properties - they are, for example, very brittle."

What Giannelis and his team envision is a microscopic polymeric sphere that could be impregnated with drugs and injected into the body where it would slowly release the needed drug before biodegrading into the body's tissue.

Giannelis' idea was to take a very old industrial idea, using inorganic particles, such as talc, as filler, but reducing the material almost to molecular scale to create what he calls "nanofillers." To do this, he took advantage of the natural structure of silicates, which under a microscope have a layered appearance, like a pack of cards. The atomic bonds between the layers are weak, allowing them to be slid against each other or to be opened up. Using a basic mixing and melting method, the researchers were able to introduce molecular chains of PVA, which is a nontoxic and biodegradable inorganic polymer, between the layers, forming a layered, latticed structure. "This nanostructured material has a lot of interfaces, and for the first time we started seeing dramatic changes in the mechanical and physical properties," said Giannelis.

Once a drug was incorporated into the material, said Giannelis, the PVA would create physical barriers to slow down and impede the flow of the medication. The layers also would interact with the drug to create a chemical barrier. "In this way you could change the amount of the inorganic material to create fewer barri

Contact: David Brand
Cornell University News Service

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