UCLA scientists have succeeded in making unique nanoscale droplets that are much smaller than a human cell and can potentially be used to deliver pharmaceuticals.
"What we found that was unexpected was within each oil droplet there was also a water droplet a double emulsion," said Timothy Deming, professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Bioengineering and a member of both the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA and UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center. "We have a water droplet inside of an oil droplet, in water."
"The big challenge," Deming added, "was to make these molecules in the sub-100-nanometer size range with these properties and have them be stable. We have demonstrated we can make these emulsions that are stable in this size range, which no one has ever been able to do before. These double nanoemulsions are generally hard to form and very unstable, but ours are very stable."
Emulsions are droplets of one liquid in another liquid; the two liquids do not mix.
"This gives us a new tool, a new material, for drug delivery and anticancer applications," said Thomas G. Mason, a UCLA associate professor of chemistry and physics who has been leading research on nanoemulsions since he joined UCLA five years ago. Mason, who holds UCLA's John McTague Career Development Chair, is also a member of the CNSI.
Deming and Mason have made nanoemulsions containing billions of double nanodroplets. Their research, reporting on droplets smaller than 100 nanometers the world's smallest double emulsions appears in the Sept. 4 edition of the journal Nature and is currently online.
"If we have water-soluble drugs, we can load them inside," Deming said. "If we have water-insoluble drugs, we can load them inside as well. We can deliver them simultaneously."
"Here, you effectively combine both types of drug molecules in the same delivery package," Mason said. "This approach could
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University of California - Los Angeles