Plankton inspires stealth nano-armor for drug delivery

Thank your friendly neighborhood plankton for providing the inspiration for an armored nanocoating for a possible drug delivery device designed at the University of Warwick. This new armor is "startingly simple" and can give "stealth" capabilities to avoid the body's defenses.

"We took our inspiration from nature, in how it adds protection and mechanical strength in certain classes of cells and organisms," explains lead researcher Stefan Bon. "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"--organisms like phytoplankton.

Another analogy the researchers use is the simple, household polystyrene ball. They added a range of different types of armor to polymer-based vesicles, including one that is described as a "highly regular packed layer of microscopic polystyrene balls." This arrangement meant they could add features including a precise permeable reinforced barrier for drug release and a gelatine-like polymer to fool the body into thinking the foreign object is simply water and to leave it alone to do its thing.

- read the University of Warwick release
- and the abstract in the Journal of the American Chemical Society