Pollen for drug delivery

01 February 2007

Pollen capsules could soon be used for drug delivery inside the body, claim UK scientists.

The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Some plants pollens can cross the gut wall where they are destroyed within the blood stream, releasing their contents. 

Dr Vesselin Paunov and his team at the University of Hull, have developed a way of filling protein capsules with nanomaterials. 

Dr Paunov said: "This method will allow sporopollenin - the material that makes up the outer layer of pollen - to be used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic functions."


Sporopollenin microcapsules from Lycopodium clavatum loaded with a range of inorganic and organic nanomaterials

The team used the sporopollenin capsules as chemical micro-reactors, adding starting materials and then allowing a chemical reaction to generate the product inside the pollen.

Various types of nanomaterials were placed in the capsules, including organic, inorganic and magnetic nanoparticles.

Dr Paunov said: "Future developments may include preparation of 'stealth' sporopollenin capsules which have longer circulation time and provide controlled release.

"Advances may also include functionalisation of the outer surface of the capsules that specifically bind to particular types of biological tissues."

Dr Orlin Velev, a biomaterials researcher at North Carolina State University, said the work was a beautiful example of the convergence of natural and man made materials on the micro-scale.

He said: "The creative use of capsules of biological origin as reactors for nanoparticle synthesis illustrates the richness of approaches that can be used in the fabrication of new biomimetic materials with potential applications in drug delivery and biomedical technologies."

with thanks to Rebecca Gillan for the original article


Sporopollenin micro-reactors for in-situ preparation, encapsulation and targeted delivery of active components  V N Paunov, G Mackenzie and S D Stoyanov, J. Mater. Chem., 2007 DOI: 10.1039/b615865j

Pollen to deliver drugs

Pollen capsules that can be filled with nanomaterials could be used for drug delivery, say scientists.

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