Researchers cook up batch of self-assembling drug delivery vehicles

The reason nanotech is so popular with the drug-delivery crowd is because, at that scale, so much more can be achieved in terms of precise dosing and targeting of medication. The drawback is that nanoscale drug delivery "vehicles" are so darn small, making them extremely difficult to cook up and put together in any uniform way. That's why another big goal of nanotech is self-assembly, or the ability of the little buggers to build themselves so large, clumsy humans don't have to. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island say they've found a way not only for precise delivery of nanoscale medication, but also a way for these tiny bubbles full of medicine to self-assemble.

The researchers were able to take a model drug molecule, partner it with iron oxide nanoparticles and encase the whole thing in a liposome. They then zap the package with an electromagnetic field and watch the magic happen. The magnetic field cooks up the nanoparticles just enough to make the liposome leaky and release controlled amounts of the drug.

The nanoparticles can be made to self-assemble because portions of the lipids are hydrophilic while others are hydrophobic. Mix them together with solvent, add water and then watch the hydrophobic particles come together to form the shell, while the hydrophilic swim around in the center.

The next step is to make the whole assembly target specific cancer or other disease-causing cells. The research appears in the June issue of ACS Nano.

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