As if I needed another reason to believe diamonds can make a person feel better: Researchers at Northwestern University are using carbon-based nanodiamonds to slowly deliver and release tightly bound insulin (acting as a growth hormone to generate new skin cells) to a specific location to fight infection and heal wounds such as those from severe burns. Researchers also showed the insulin was virtually inactive while it was bound to the nanodiamonds, thereby preventing excess drug release.
A key to the insulin release and delivery is that the pH level of the skin, usually 7.4, reaches a more basic level when it is healing, according to a release by the team directed by Dean Ho, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at Northwestern. “It’s a tricky problem because proteins, even small ones like insulin, bind so well to the nanodiamonds. But, in this case, the right pH level effectively triggers the release of the insulin.”
The next step in the study is to incorporate the nanodiamond-insulin clusters into gels for clinical trials. Other possible formulations may include ointments, bandages, and sutures. Ho’s group is also studying the use of nanodiamonds to release a chemotherapy agent, Doxorubicin, to fight cancer and to disperse some insoluble drugs in water.
If your research team is working toward finding alternative routes to deliver therapeutic proteins, PharmTech would be glad to hear from you.