Nanotechnology offers great potential for the pharmaceutical industry. French researchers recently reported on the use of porous hybrid crystalline solids as nanocarriers in drug delivery and as a possible tool in theranostics, or the application of diagnostics in the development of personalized medicines.
A team of researchers led by Gérard Férey, professor of the Institut Lavoisier de Versailles at the Université de Versailles Saint–Quentin en Yvelines, and researchers from the Université Paris–Sud, reported on the use of porous hybrid crystalline solids (MILs for Materials Institut Lavoisier) as nanocarriers for drug delivery and imaging applications. One of the challenges found with existing nanocarriers is that they show poor drug loading (usually less than 5% of the transported drug versus the carrier material). They also release the drug too quickly, causing the drug to be adsorbed at the external surface of the nanocarrier (1).
To resolve that challenge, the researchers used nanocarriers based on a porous iron (III)-based metal–organic framework for delivering several drugs: busulfan, azidothymidine triphosphate, doxorubicine, and cidofovir. The hybrid crystalline solids with the inorganic–metal framework allowed for greater flexibility in the structure and porosity to improve drug interactions and drug loading. Drug loading improved up to 40% by weight, and the release time increased as well, according to a press release by the Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research), a French government-funded research organization. Additionally, the activity of the MIL-based nanocarriers may allow for medical imaging and the tracking of the drugs to the target, thereby potentially opening the way for their application in theranostics
Interestedly, MILs are also being explored in environmental applications such as a vehicle for carbon dioxide sequesteration. The metal–organic framework of the MILs creates cages and channels that permit the storage of large molecules, such as drug molecules, as well as the capture of other molecules, such as carbon dioxde. The organic–inorganic framework of the MILs creates flexibility in the structure, allowing it to be responsive to external conditions such as temperature and pressure, according to a recent press release by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, which conducted research with the Institut Lavoisier de Versailles in this area.
Nanotechnology offers great promise in many scientific areas, including drug delivery, and it is interesting to see how nanoporous materials are being explored in this application.
1. P. Horcajada, Nature Materials, Dec. 13, 2009, online DOI:10.1038/nmat2608.