Tiny, nanoscale glass bottles triggered by heat could be used to deliver drugs to specific locations in the body.
Developed by a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the ‘bottles’ are made up of hollow silica spheres only 200 nanometers wide with a tiny hole in the surface. The spheres are filled with the desired medication, which has been combined with fatty acids and a near-infrared dye. Targeting the spheres with a near-infrared laser will cause the dye to heat up, melting the fatty acids and allowing the drug to leak out through the hole. Because the medicine is released on command, the technique reduces both the amount needed as well as the chance of side effects.
According to professor Younan Xia, “This approach holds great promise for medical applications that require drugs to be released in a controlled fashion and has advantages over other methods of controlled drug release.”