Targeting drug delivery with gels
An innovative self-assembling gel system that exclusively releases a drug in the presence of a specific enzyme has been devised.
Kjeld van Bommel and colleagues at the Biomade Technology Foundation and the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, developed the gel system, which uses low molecular weight gelators instead of larger polymer gels.
They found that drugs could only be released if the gel is first turned into a solution, and this change is triggered by a temperature increase or change in acidity of the solution. This increases the number of factors that need to be optimised to allow release, improving the selectivity of drug delivery.
Delivering drugs to a specific site within the body then controlling their release is particularly important with potent pharmaceuticals that are toxic to healthy tissues. Van Bommel's low molecular weight gelators allow this gel system to respond quickly, and drugs can be released in the presence of specific enzymes likely to be found at the target site.
K J C van Bommel et al, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2005, 3, 2917 (DOI: 10.1039/b507157g)