Nature offers a cue to new drug delivery tech

A group of engineers are taking a leaf from the book of nature and using it to develop a new drug delivery technology, as well as new therapeutics.

The team of researchers led by Nishit Doshi of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has developed what they call a flexible, biodegradable microparticle that acts a lot like a red blood cell. As nature created flexible red blood cells in a disc shape to ease their passage along narrow capillaries, the engineering team says that the same design will speed their new microparticles.

"Changing the shape of a solid polystyrene microparticle into a [red blood cell]-shaped object...is quite challenging," the authors state in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But by combining polymer (polylactic acid-co-glycolide) protein (hemoglobin and others) and polyelectrolyte layers, reports Scientific American, they were able to get the particles to bend just like a red blood cell. And that could make a huge impact on time-released therapies, as well as medical imaging agents.  

- read the article from Scientific American

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