An AA battery may be all you need to trigger the delivery of a targeted drug. A weak charge generated by the battery, Stanford University researchers have found, releases medication combined with nanoparticles contained in an injectable gel.
Stanford chemistry professor Richard Zare developed the new approach. It's something so innovative, and also surprisingly straightforward, that even Robert Langer, the prolific Massachusetts Institute of Technology biomedical engineer and entrepreneur, offered favorable comments about the work in an interview with Chemical & Engineering News.
"This is a very simple system" for drug delivery, he told the publication.
Not surprisingly, an injectable gel and AA battery offer a pretty cheap alternative to the standard of care. Other targeted drug-delivery concepts rely on electricity to jolt the drugs into diffusing into the body, such as electronic chips that contain drugs. But doctors must rely on surgery or complex equipment such as ultrasound to launch the drug release, explains C&EN and in-pharmatechnologist.com in a story on the study.
Zare and his lab loaded a chemotherapy drug and fluorescent dye into conductive-polymer nanoparticles, and placed them into a temperature-sensitive solution that becomes a gel after it is injected into the body. In the lab, a light electrical jolt generated by an AA battery caused the nanoparticles to release the drugs, and different levels and durations of the electricity controlled dosage level and duration. AA battery energy also helped effectively release nanoparticles containing fluorescent dye into mice after researchers injected the substance under the rodents' skin, according to the C&EN article.
Details are published in the journal ACS Nano. And further animal research funded by Sanofi is continuing, C&EN notes.
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