'Crystal balls' in drug delivery could be stronger than liposomes

Depictions of crystal spheres used for drug delivery--Courtesy of Drexel

Researchers at Philadelphia's Drexel University have developed a microscopic "crystal ball" that could someday be used for drug delivery.

The hollow crystal spheres, called crystalsomes, are thought to be better than commonly used liposomes at carrying and delivering payloads because of their relatively high stability. Normally, crystals form in structured shapes that aren't conductive to the purpose, but the scientists made them into spheres by containing them within droplets of oil.

"Mechanical properties of polymeric materials could be improved by forming crystalline structures," lead researcher Christopher Li said. "While precisely tuning crystallization within a nanoscale curved space is challenging, we envisage that this novel structure could shed light on investigating spherical crystallography and drug delivery."

Preliminary tests in the lab have shown that the crystals are more than 100 times stronger than liposomes, which would make them more dependable as delivery agents.

- here's the Drexel report