Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials

New method uncovers highly porous graphene

IFM researchers have developed a new, highly efficient method of preparing porous and reduced graphene oxide.

Putting tiny diagnostics to the test

A portable device that uses 'smart matter' could transform medical diagnosis in developing countries.

Micro- and nano-encapsulated drug delivery systems

The encapsulation of drugs into micro- and nano-particles will lead to sustained, targeted and controlled drug release, which will remarkably improve the performance of drugs for diseases such as cancer.

An image of the front cover of the Journal of Applied Polymer Sciences 129 (2) July 2013.

Work on PLGA encapsulated nano- and micro-particles was highlighted on the front cover of the Journal of Applied Polymer Sciences 129 (2) July 2013.

Drug delivery

To achieve efficient chemotherapy, the anticancer drug concentration in the blood should be maintained between the minimum effective therapeutic level and the maximum tolerable level for a prolonged time interval. We have introduced an integrated micro and nano encapsulation process that can fabricate novel conjugates for targeted drug delivery. By encapsulating widely used anticancer drugs into biodegradable polymers such as nano PLGA-folate and chitosan-folate conjugates and mesoporous silica nanoparticles, the drugs can survive the harsh conditions of the human gastrointestinal tract.

In vitro drug dissolution tests show an initial burst release followed by an extended slow release of up to 120 hours. The system clearly shows promise for treatment of colorectal cancer because it overcomes the often seen problems of both early drug release from nanoparticles and poor functionality of microspheres.

Bio-agricultural application

The preparation of mesoporous silica nanparticles (MSN) at room temperature has enabled the synthesis of 20 nm particles containing a network of interconnected pores about 2 nm in diameter, making the nanoparticles suitable for transporting chemcials into plant cells. The uptake and distribution of these nanoparticles were examined during seed germination, in roots of plants grown in a hydroponic system and in whole leaves and roots of plants via vacuum infiltration. The nanoparticles did not affect seed germination in lupin and there was no phytotoxicity. Following germination of wheat and lupin grown in a nutrient solution containing nanoparticles, these nanoparticles were found within the cells and cell walls of the emerging root and in the vascular transport elements, the xylem, and in other associated cells. The nanoparticles were also found in leaves and roots of Arabidopsis following vacuum infiltration of whole seedlings. They were principally found in the intercellular spaces of the mesophyll but also throughout much of the root system.

This work shows that MSN can be a very powerful delivery system for bio-agricultural applications if the size of the designed particles can be accurately controlled.

An image describing the Schematics of MSN development for controlled drug release in plants

Schematics of MSN development for controlled drug release in plants.

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23rd January 2014