Controlled release and responsive drug delivery systems

Nanostructured drug delivery systems

D4's research in this area focuses on liquid crystals, with two main objectives:

  • to understand and manipulate the self-assembly process of liquid crystals and develop new methods to structurally characterise these materials—this work employs facilities at the Australian Synchrotron
  • to control and manipulate liquid-crystalline nanostructures to improve drug delivery outcomes in vivo

An area of particular interest is designing systems that respond to external stimuli to modify drug release rates—effectively providing an 'on-off switch' for drug release. These systems may ultimately provide improved therapeutic outcomes and patient convenience for frequently administered medicines, such as short-acting biological molecules.

Nanostructures and their effect on drug release rates

The spontaneous self-assembly of some lipids to form liquid-crystalline structures offers a potential new class of sustained-release matrix.

Nanostructured liquid-crystalline materials are highly stable in dilution. They can therefore persist as a reservoir for slow drug release as they are diluted in fluids, including in the GI tract or subcutaneous tissues. Alternatively, they can be dispersed into nanoparticle form while retaining the 'parent' liquid-crystalline structure.

The rate of drug release is directly related to the nanostructure of the matrix. Modifying the assembly process or conditions can therefore provide a means of controlling drug release.

Research laboratories