A study conducted at the University of Gothenburg has introduced a novel method that could transform the way medicines are delivered to specific parts of the body. The research focuses on responsive emulsions, a concept that enables precise control over when droplets dissolve, ultimately influencing drug release.
The method involves temperature-sensitive microgel particles that create a protective shell around droplets until the temperature surpasses 32 degrees Celsius. At that point, the microgels contract, leading to the dissolution of the droplets in the surrounding liquid.
Emulsions, consisting of droplets suspended in a liquid without dissolving, play a crucial role in various applications, including drug administration. The challenge lies not only in retaining droplet form but also in controlling when the droplets dissolve to release encapsulated active chemicals.
Marcel Rey, a researcher in Physics at the University of Gothenburg and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, explained the underlying concept of responsive emulsions. "The idea is to stabilise emulsions using temperature-sensitive microgel particles that adapt their shape to the ambient temperature. At room temperature, they swell in water, but above 32°C, they shrink and contract."
The researchers discovered that the fundamental mechanism driving stimuli-responsive emulsions involves morphological changes in the stabilising microgels. This understanding is crucial for designing microgels capable of stabilising emulsions at room temperature while facilitating dissolution at body temperature.
The stabilising microgels exhibit both particle and polymer characteristics, contributing to the high stability of the emulsion and responsiveness to external influences leading to droplet dissolution. "Now that we understand how responsive emulsions function, we can customise them to specific requirements," stated Marcel Rey, emphasising the potential for creating tailored drug delivery systems.
The development of temperature-sensitive emulsions, as demonstrated in laboratory experiments, opens new avenues for pharmaceutical research focusing on targeted medicines. The goal is to deliver medication in a concentrated manner to specific diseased areas of the body, minimising the impact on the entire body.
"Responsive emulsions hold great potential as a precise tool for delivering medicine to specific areas in the body. Although additional research is needed, the future looks promising, and advancements can be expected over the next 10 years," concluded Marcel Rey, highlighting the potential impact of this innovative drug delivery method.