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Liposome-hydrogel hybrids: No toil, no trouble for stronger bubbles
Date:6/9/2010

People have been combining materials to bring forth the best properties of both ever since copper and tin were merged to start the Bronze Age. In the latest successful merger, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland (UM) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have developed a method to combine two substances that individually have generated interest for their potential biomedical applications: a phospholipid membrane "bubble" called a liposome and particles of hydrogel, a water-filled network of polymer chains. The combination forms a hybrid nanoscale (billionth of a meter) particle that may one day travel directly to specific cells such as tumors, pass easily though the target's cell membrane, and then slowly release a drug payload.

In a recent paper in the journal Langmuir*, the research team reviewed how liposomes and hydrogel nanoparticles have individual advantages and disadvantages for drug delivery. While liposomes have useful surface properties that allow them to target specific cells and pass through membranes, they can rupture if the surrounding environment changes. Hydrogel nanoparticles are more stable and possess controlled release capabilities to tune the dosage of a drug over time, but are prone to degradation and clumping. The researchers' goal was to engineer nanoparticles incorporating both components to utilize the strengths of each material while compensating for their weaknesses.

To manufacture their liposome-hydrogel hybrid vesicles, the researchers adapted a NIST-UM technique known as COMMAND for COntrolled Microfluidic Mixing And Nanoparticle Determination that uses a microscopic fluidic (microfluidic) device (see "NIST, Maryland Researchers COMMAND a Better Class of Liposomes" in NIST Tech Beat, April 27, 2010). In the new work, phospholipid molecules are dissolved in isopropyl alcohol and fed via a tiny (21 micrometers in diameter, or three time
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Contact: Michael E. Newman
michael.newman@nist.gov
301-975-3025
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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