His group's early research shows high concentrations of such tiny beadlets would not be as viscous as proteins dehydrated into the normal powder form, which tend to clog up syringes, he said.
These microbeads might also be packaged for slow time-release by surrounding them with a polymer that would biodegrade over time, though how to do that has not been resolved yet, he added.
In collaborations with Duke's Brain Tumor Center and Comprehensive Cancer Center, the researchers are seeking additional funding to do initial evaluations on glassified forms of three molecules with drug potential.
One, known as O6-AMBG, can help the cancer drug Temozolomide work better when infused into brain tumors. A second, Lapatinib, is designed to knock out other molecules that help cancer cells grow in the breast and elsewhere. The third, shepherdin, also targets breast cancers.
Their discovery of protein glassification grew out of a basic exploration of a general question: What can dissolve in what?
Needham's research group found, for example, that air and the organic liquid chloroform will both dissolve in water at about the same rate. It also found that water will dissolve in decanol, a substance it cannot even mix with in large quantities.
These experiments, and the theory underlying them, are described in a second report led by Needhams's graduate student Jonathan Su, now published online in the Journal of Chemical Physics ( http://link.aip.org/link/?JCP/132/044506 ).
"Mixing" and "dissolving" are not the same thing, Needham said. "A good example of a suspended mixture is salad dressing, where oil and water are mixed but oil does not appreciably dissolve in water, nor water in oil."
They next tried a more complex variation of a familiar high school ex
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