New drug delivery system slows water filtration, displaces air

Scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Boston University have concocted a new drug delivery mechanism that could work over a period of months, carrying a pain or cancer treatment. The system relies on extremely water-repellent materials and air, of all things.

For more details, read the Journal of the American Chemical Society. To get the short version, read on.

To start, the researchers built their system with superhydrophobic (water resistant) meshes derived from biocompatible polymers, created with electrospinning fabrication. They loaded an anti-cancer drug into the meshes, and then tracked its release in a liquid solution, as well as how the mesh performed.

Their in vitro study found that they affected the rate the drug releases by removing an air pocket inside the material. By releasing or keeping the air pocket they could control how fast or slow the compound discharged. What's more, the scientists also figured out that the process prevents immediate release of the drug and can maintain a steady discharge for some time, perhaps over a few months.

A drug delivery mechanism with that much staying power would come in handy for thoracic surgery or could help deliver drugs to prevent tumors from growing back after surgery, Yolonda Colson, director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women's Hospital Cancer Center, said in a statement. She and BU biomedical engineering and chemistry professor Mark Grinstaff mentored the study's main author, Boston University graduate student Stefan Yohe.

Much more research will be needed both in the lab and in subsequent trials, and scientists will also have to prove the delivery method is safe for use in people.

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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