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Issue 21, 2018
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Electrically controlled drug release using pH-sensitive polymer films

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Drug delivery systems (DDS) that allow spatially and temporally controlled release of drugs are of particular interest in the field of drug delivery. These systems create opportunities for individually tailored doses of drugs to be administered as well as reduce side effects by localizing the initial drug dose to the organ of interest. We present an electroresponsive DDS in the form of a bioresorbable nanocomposite film which operates at low voltages (<−2 V). The method is based on electrochemically generating local pH changes at an electrode surface to induce dissolution of a pH-sensitive polymer, which is used as the carrier material. We previously demonstrated this proof-of-concept using a poly(methyl methacrylate-co-methacrylic acid) (co-PMMA) copolymer commercially marketed as Eudragit S100 (EGT). However, as EGT is soluble at a pH above 7, experiments were performed in isotonic saline solutions (pH ∼ 6.4). In this work, we have synthesized co-PMMA with a variety of monomer ratios to shift the solubility of the copolymer to higher pH values, and developed a polymer that can be used under physiologically relevant conditions. The generalizability of this system was demonstrated by showing controlled release of different drug molecules with varying parameters like size, hydrophobicity, and pKa. Fluorescein, a hydrophilic model compound, meloxicam, a hydrophobic anti-arthritic medication, curcumin, a small molecule with anti-cancer therapeutic potential, and insulin, a polypeptide hormone used in the treatment of hypoglycemia, could all be released on demand with minimal leakage. The drug loading achieved was ∼32 wt% by weight of the co-polymer.

Graphical abstract: Electrically controlled drug release using pH-sensitive polymer films

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Supplementary files

Article information

30 Mar 2018
12 May 2018
First published
15 May 2018

Nanoscale, 2018,10, 10087-10093
Article type

Electrically controlled drug release using pH-sensitive polymer films

S. E. Neumann, C. F. Chamberlayne and R. N. Zare, Nanoscale, 2018, 10, 10087
DOI: 10.1039/C8NR02602E

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