A combined experimental and computational study of novel nanocage-based metal–organic frameworks for drug delivery†
Three new metal organic frameworks (MOFs) with chemical formulae [(CH3)2NH2] [Sm3(L1)2(HCOO)2(DMF)2(H2O)]·2DMF·18H2O (1), [Cu2(L2)(H2O)2]·2.22DMA (2) and [Zn2(L1)(DMA)]·1.75DMA were synthesized and structurally characterized. 1 and 2 show a classical NbO-like topology and have two types of interconnected cages. 3 exhibits an uncommon zzz topology and has two types of interconnected cages. These MOFs can adsorb large amounts of the drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and release it in a progressive way. 5-FU was incorporated into desolvated 1, 2 and 3 with loadings of 0.40, 0.42, and 0.45 g g−1, respectively. The drug release rates were 72%, 96% and 79% of the drug after 96 hours in 1, 120 hours in 2 and 96 hours in 3, respectively. Grand Canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations were performed to investigate the molecular interactions during 5-FU adsorption to the three novel materials. The GCMC simulations reproduced the experimental trend with respect to the drug loading capacity of each material. They also provided a structural description of drug packing within the frameworks, helping to explain the load capacity and controlled release characteristics of the materials. 5-FU binding preferences to 1, 2 and 3 reflect the diversity in pore types, chemistry and sizes. The calculated drug load is more related to the molecular properties of accessible volume Vacc than to the pore size.