Naturally occurring cell materials called bionanocomposites could hold clues to the creation of hybrid natural-synthetic drug delivery systems with high degrees of biodegradability. Researchers from the Polytechnic Institute of New York have found key components of these nanomaterials that could help pave the way to that point.
The scientists explored how biocomposite protein polymers interact with other materials at a molecular level, which has been challenging because the polymers are especially difficult to isolate from nature. By looking at how the polymers interact with cellulose, for instance, the researchers came to a better understanding of how they might be used to create drug delivery systems or artificial human tissue.
A problem with many drug delivery systems is that they can have their own toxicity issues when they break down after delivering their intended dose. With the hybrid system that incorporates both a natural and a synthetic component, it can be possible to engineer completely biodegradable--yet highly complex--delivery systems. These systems could also bypass the immune system in ways that synthetic components are unable to accomplish alone.
The National Science Foundation, the Society of Plastic Engineers, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Adolphe-Merkle Foundation funded the research, which was published in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules.
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