New technique delivers drug more effectively releases drug doses when, where needed

New promising approach to targeted drug delivery

12:11 PM, 7th February 2014
New technique delivers drug more effectively
Graphene nanosheets in a thin film, with a small jolt of electricity, provide a promising new way to deliver drugs.

WASHINGTON DC, US: Many of today’s therapeutic drugs cause potential side effects. These effects often occur when a drug is active throughout the body, not just where and when it is needed. But scientists are reporting progress on a new tailored approach to deliver medicine in a much more targeted way. The study on these new electronically controlled drugs appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Researchers Xinyan Tracy Cui and colleagues noted that in the lab, “smart” medical implants can now release drugs on demand when exposed to various cues, including ultraviolet light and electrical current. These advances are largely due to developments in nanomaterials that can be designed to carry drugs and then release them at specific times and dosages. Researchers have also experimented with loading anti-cancer drugs on thin, tiny sheets of graphene oxide, which have a lot of traits that are useful in drug delivery. But current techniques still require tweaking before they’ll be ready for prime time. Cui’s team wanted to work out some of the final kinks.

The team incorporated graphene oxide nanosheets into a polymer thin film that can conduct electricity, loaded it with an anti-inflammatory drug and coated an electrode with it. When they zapped the material with an electric current, they showed that it released the drug consistently in response. They could do this several hundred times. Also, by experimenting with the sizes and thicknesses of the graphene oxide sheets, the scientists could change how much drug the nanosheets could carry. Cui said this approach could be useful in treating epilepsy, for example. In that case, medication already lying in wait inside the body could be released at the onset of a seizure.

© American Chemical Society News

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