Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have discovered a new medicinal drug delivery system that precisely targets the bodily area affected. The system, based on graphene oxide, is triggered by an electrical charge and has been shown to release an anti-inflammatory drug on demand.

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Abstract:

On-demand, local delivery of drug molecules to target tissues provides a means for effective drug dosing while reducing the adverse effects of systemic drug delivery. This work explores an electrically controlled drug delivery nanocomposite composed of graphene oxide (GO) deposited inside a conducting polymer scaffold. The nanocomposite is loaded with an anti-inflammatory molecule, dexamethasone, and exhibits favorable electrical properties.

In response to voltage stimulation, the nanocomposite releases drug with a linear release profile and a dosage that can be adjusted by altering the magnitude of stimulation. No drug passively diffuses from the composite in the absence of stimulation. In vitro cell culture experiments demonstrate that the released drug retains its bioactivity and that no toxic byproducts leach from the film during electrical stimulation.

Decreasing the size and thickness of the GO nanosheets, by means of ultrasonication treatment prior to deposition into the nanocomposite, alters the film morphology, drug load, and release profile, creating an opportunity to fine-tune the properties of the drug delivery system to meet a variety of therapeutic needs. The high level of temporal control and dosage flexibility provided by the electrically controlled GO nanocomposite drug delivery platform make it an exciting candidate for on-demand drug delivery.