Smart materials inject new hope into drug delivery

A future without injections draws one step closer with the development of smart material designs that may deliver drugs to targeted areas of the body.

Dr Tu Le, a CSIRO research scientist, has developed a tool that predicts the behaviour of self-assembling nanoparticles, allowing for the accurate design of smart nanocapsules for drugs, gene therapies or diagnostic materials.

The work raises the possibility of more comfortable therapy treatment for chronic-disease sufferers worldwide.

“These materials can load a large amount of therapeutic agents, travel to a targeted destination in the body and release the therapeutic agents over a period of time in a controlled manner. They are non-toxic, biodegradable and bioadhesive,” says Tu, who is working in a multi-discipline team developing these smart materials.

Concerns have previously been raised about the inability to predict how these smart materials will form in different conditions. However, Tu has developed novel theoretical models that can predict thTuLe (640x449)e complex behaviour of these materials in various conditions.

Subsequent experiments at the Australian Synchrotron have confirmed her predications, opening the way for the design of carrier materials for different types of medicine.

“The success of our research will change the life of a large number of people who are suffering from different diseases such as macular degeneration. Macular degeneration patients who are having weekly or fortnightly injections into their eyeballs can soon have monthly or even less frequent injections,” Tu says.

“People with heart problems who are taking medicine daily will also benefit from a more cost effective and more comfortable therapy treatment.”

Victorian State Finalist: Tu Le, CSIRO

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