Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles

Date:
January 31, 2011
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
The ability of some plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armor has inspired chemists to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armored protection, and in some cases provide "stealth" capabilities which can avoid the body's defenses while releasing the drug.

The ability of some forms of plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armour has inspired chemists at the University of Warwick to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armoured protection.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick

The ability of some forms of plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armour has inspired chemists at the University of Warwick to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armoured protection.

Related Articles


The Warwick researchers have been able to decorate these hollow structures with a variety of nanoparticles opening a new strategy in the design of vehicles for drug release, for example by giving the vesicle "stealth" capabilities which can avoid the body's defences while releasing the drug.

Advances in polymerisation have led to a surge in the creation of vesicles made from polymer molecules. Such vesicles have interesting chemical and physical properties which makes these hollow structures potential drug delivery vehicles.

The University of Warwick team were convinced that even more strength, and interesting tailored properties, could be given to the vesicles if they could add an additional layer of colloidal armour made from a variety of nanoparticles.

Lead researcher on the University of Warwick team Associate Professor Stefan Bon said: "We took our inspiration from nature, in how it adds protection and mechanical strength in certain classes of cells and organisms. In addition to the mechanical strength provided by the cytoskeleton of the cell, plants, fungi, and certain bacteria have an additional cell wall as outermost boundary. Organisms that particularly attracted our interest were those with a cell wall composed of an armour of colloidal objects -- for instance bacteria coated with S-layer proteins, or phytoplankton, such as the coccolithophorids, which have their own CaCO3-based nano-patterned colloidal armour"

The Warwick researchers hit on a surprisingly simple and highly effective method of adding a range of different types of additional armour to the polymer based vesicles. One of those armour 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 -150oc preserving the vesicles shape before observation by the electron microscope. This revealed that the researchers' simple charge based method had worked exactly as planned.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rong Chen, Daniel J. G. Pearce, Sara Fortuna, David L. Cheung, Stefan A. F. Bon. Polymer Vesicles with a Colloidal Armor of Nanoparticles. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 110126141146035 DOI: 10.1021/ja110359f

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110131133327.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2011, January 31). Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110131133327.htm
University of Warwick. "Plankton inspires creation of stealth armor for slow-release microscopic drug vehicles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110131133327.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins