Carnegie Mellon University scientists know that good things come in small packages. They have developed nanogels — tiny, spherical, water swellable particles less than 300 nanometers in size — that uniformly release encapsulated carbohydrate-based drugs.
The nanogels were created using atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), which means the nanogels will ultimately be able to deliver more drug directly to the target and to dispense the drug in a time-release manner.
"Nanogels possess many unique properties that make them ideal drug-delivery tools," said Daniel Siegwart, a graduate student in University Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski's laboratory at Carnegie Mellon.
For example, these new nanogels, which are nontoxic and biodegradable, can escape the notice of the body's immune system, thereby prolonging circulation time within the bloodstream.
"One advantage of site-specific, targeted drug delivery is that very toxic drugs could be delivered to the targeted site with little or no damage to surrounding tissues," said James Spanswick, associate director of the Center for Macromolecular Engineering.
In a recent article published in the "Journal of the American Chemical Society," the Carnegie Mellon team demonstrated that its nanogels could be used to encapsulate an anticancer drug called doxorubicin. When the scientists mixed the doxorubicin-loaded nanogels with cancer cells in the laboratory, the doxorubicin was released, penetrating the cancer cells and significantly inhibiting their growth.
The work was carried out in collaboration with Jeffrey Hollinger, professor of biomedical engineering and biological sciences and director of the Bone Tissue Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon and funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.