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SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

Scott Lab develops new hydrogel for drug delivery

Using nanocarriers to deliver drugs and diagnostic agents to specific areas of the body is hardly new in the world of nanomedicine. However, despite the significant promise of the technology, it has its challenges.

"Controlled, sustained delivery is advantageous for treating many chronic disorders, but this is difficult to achieve with nanomaterials without inducing undesirable local inflammation," SQI member Evan Scott said. "Instead, nanomaterials are typically administered as multiple separate injections or as a transfusion that can take longer than an hour. It would be great if physicians could give one injection which continuously released nanomaterials over a controlled period of time."

Thanks to a grant from the NSF and NIH, Nicholas Karabin of the Scott Lab has developed a new nanocarrier formulation which makes this single injection approach possible. The hydrogel serves as both scaffold and drug delivery vehicle by re-assembling itself into the nanocarriers, which then transport the therapeutic agent to the desired location. Because all of the material is used up in the delivery of the drug or diagnostic agent, there is none left at the injection site to cause inflammation or discomfort later on.

The research, which was published in Nature Communications , holds great promise for the future. Potential applications include enabling single-administration vaccines that do not require boosters as well as a new way to deliver chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or drugs that facilitate wound healing.