A smart tissue-like biomaterial that can release drugs in response to a magnetic trigger has been created by UK scientists.
Simon Webb and colleagues from the University of Manchester used magnetic nanoparticles to glue together dye-containing vesicles then embedded them in a hydrogel. Webb positioned the vesicles within the hydrogel using magnetism and showed he could release the dye using an alternating magnetic field as a trigger. Webb says this indicates that the tissue-like gel could be used to store drugs and deliver them to the site of disease without affecting the surrounding tissue.
"The clever part is the way in which the authors interface their magnetic triggers with vesicles using precisely controlled non-covalent interactions"
- David Smith, University of York, UK
Although the group have previously used vesicles to mimic cells sticking together, Webb says the magnetic particles and hydrogel matrix strengthen the assemblies and make them easier to control. 'Gratifyingly, this combination has provided robust materials that can be patterned and release biochemicals in response to a magnetic trigger,' he says.
'The clever part of all this is the way in which the authors interface their magnetic triggers with vesicles using precisely controlled non-covalent interactions,' says David Smith, who investigates nanoscale gel-phase materials at the University of York, UK. 'Embedding the resulting triggered-release system within a hydrogel then generates the kind of material which could be used for drug delivery.' He adds that an alternating magnetic field is ideal for clinical use as it does not adversely affect healthy tissue.
Webb says they are working to create smaller patterns in the hydrogel matrix, and to magnetically trigger the release of cell messenger molecules such as growth factors, to enable use of this technology for biomedical applications.
Link to journal article