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Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles
Date:1/31/2011

our types was a highly regular packed layer of microscopic polystyrene balls.

This configuration meant the researchers could design a vesicle which had an additional and precise permeable reinforced barrier for drug release, as a result of the crystalline-like ordered structure of the polystyrene balls.

The researchers also succeeded in using the same technique to add a gelatine-like polymer to provide a "stealth" armour to shield vesicles from unwanted attention from the body's immune system while it slowly released its drug treatment.

This particular coating (a poly((ethyl acrylate)-co-(methacrylic acid)) hydrogel) absorbs so much surrounding water into its outer structure that it may be able to fool the body's defence mechanism into believing it is in fact just water.

The Warwick researchers had the idea of simply giving their chosen colloidal particles, or latex, based armour the opposite charge to that of the polymer vesicles, to bind them together. This turned out to be even more effective and easy to manipulate and tailor than they even they had hoped for.

However the researchers needed a new way of actually observing the vesicles to see if their plan had worked. Previous observational methods required researchers to dry out the vesicles before examining then under an electron microscope but this seriously deformed the vesicles and thus provide little useful data. However the University of Warwick had recently acquired a cryo electron microscope thanks to funding from the Science City programme. This allowed the research team to quickly freeze the vesicles to -150 degress centigrade preserving the vesicles shape before observation by the electron microscope. This revealed that the researchers' simple charge based method had worked exactly as planned.


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Contact: Dr.Stefan A. F. Bon
S.bon@warwick.ac.uk
44-247-657-4009
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert  

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