Rice bioengineers create a peptide 2.0 drug delivery vehicle

Rice University

Bioengineers at Rice University have created a new peptide nanofiber built to carry hydrophobic small molecules to their destination.

Injectable drugs are water-soluble and can be delivered without many problems. But hydrophobic, or water-avoiding, small molecules represent a delivery challenge.

So the bioengineers created a hydrogel made up of their new nanofibers that have gaps built in to nestle their insoluble therapeutic cargo. Then the gel is injected where the therapy is needed. The work was published in the journal Biomacromolecules.

Rice’s Jeffrey Hartgerink has been working on these custom peptides for some time. And he’s particularly proud of his peptide 2.0 version.

"Here, we've done something different: We modify the inside of the fibers," he said in a release. "We remove part of the internal portion of the fiber--that's the missing tooth--and that's a hydrophobic environment.”

"We can simultaneously trap hydrophilic (soluble) proteins in the hydrogel matrix," Hartgerink added. "There's no reason we can't do both at the same time. This paper just looks at one aspect, but they're not mutually exclusive approaches. The long-term goal of this material is that it eventually can do everything.”

- here's the release
- and the journal abstract