Research Highlights

A New Manipulative Drug Delivery System (2011.2.8)

2011-07-19 931

A new drug delivery system, whose nanopores open or close depending on electrical stimulus, has been established by Professor Jin Kon Kim, Director of National Creativity Research Initiative Program for Block Copolymer Self-Assembly. The device can also be manipulated by a remote controller while being planted inside a human body.

Published on Nano Letters (11(3), 1284-1288 (2011)), an authoritative journal on nanoscience, the article, ‘Electrically Actuatable Smart Nanoporous Membrane for Pulsatile Drug Release,’ discusses how the new device can freely control the release of drugs into a patient’s body. Nanoporous membranes open and close its pores as a response to electrical stimuli and this phenomenon was applied to the recent invention.

With PhD candidate Gumhye Jeon, Professor Kim arranged the system by attaching polypyrrole, a smart macromolecule that changes its shape responding to an electrical stimulus, to the nanoporous membrane. As a result, the team was able to certify that drugs can be released at a desired time and for a desired period, depending on the type of the drugs.

Especially, this device is actuatable to the electrical stimulus in a few seconds, and can run with lower voltage (1.1 volt), which is less than the amount (3 volts) used for the operation of an artificial heart. Consequently, the device can release the drug swiftly and accurately, but the most significant advantage of this device is that it is safe to the human body.

Moreover, this device can be combined with microchips and sensors, making it possible to program drug release in advance or detect the body’s reaction to a drug injection. Experts are anticipating this achievement to be applied to many kinds of hormone therapies for conditions such as infertility, dwarfism, osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as chronic diseases such as insomnia, angina pectoris, asthma and pain control, all of which require discontinuous and prompt drug delivery.

Professor Kim commented, “Our work makes it very convenient for the patients who need regular visits to their doctors for treatment and can be applied to a wide range of illnesses.” His work was introduced as a featured highlight in Asia Materials, a sister journal of Nature Publishing Group, as well as in Nanowerk, an international online magazine focusing on nanoscience and technology. This work was supported by the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.