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Personal Biomaterials: A Blog Covering Biomaterials for Drug Delivery
Biomaterials have come a long way since they were first developed, and today’s advances include drug delivery systems that make it easier to administer medications.
What are biomaterials? They’re essentially anything that has been engineered for use in the body with a diagnostic, medical or therapeutic purpose.
Biomaterials range from hip implants to artificial heart valves and have been around for roughly 50 years. These materials are designed to work with biological systems in the body or as a diagnostic option.
Understanding Drug Delivery Systems
There are several methods of delivering medication or other types of drugs to a specific area or providing controlled release of these medications. In many cases, doctors want to apply the medication to a specific area of the body to interact with the affected area. This is why there are different options for delivering the drug.
The method chosen is usually the one that will provide the most benefit while reducing side effects as much as possible. Some common methods of drug delivery include:
Oral: A pill or liquid that you swallow.
Inhalation: This type of medication is usually in a mist or vapor form to be breathed in.
Topical: A cream or liquid or patch that is applied to the skin so it may be absorbed.
Injection: A needle is used to deliver the medication into the muscles, bloodstream or joint.
There are many other methods, as well, which are designed to make it easier to get the medicine where it needs to go.
Using Biomaterials as a Drug Delivery System
Biomaterials may be used to move drugs to a targeted area of the body with minimal effort. This makes the whole process more efficient and effective, reducing side effects and increasing the probability of success.
In order to be useful, the system needs to maintain the drug stability so it remains effective until it arrives at the target site. It has to have a measurable release rate, to ensure it is delivering the right amount of medication to the site, whether this is over hours or days, or even years. The biomaterials need to be biocompatible, nontoxic and should be sufficiently cheap to produce.
There are several ways to ensure this all fits the medication you provide.
A capsule may contain the medication that is required, but if that medicine needs to reach a certain point before the drug is released, it may be encapsulated. This biomaterial will need to dissolve at a specific point when the capsule has reached the desired target. At this point, it melts away and the medication inside is released.
In some cases, there may be layers of barriers to ensure there are minute amounts of drugs being released at regular intervals. These timed release options must be biodegradable, but should also hold up to stomach acids or any other substances encountered, until it’s time to release the medication.
Transdermal Drug Delivery Systems
One of the more advanced methods of providing medication over time is through a transdermal patch or a microneedle patch that is applied to the skin. These use tiny needles that don’t penetrate far enough into the skin to activate the nerves, but sufficiently that they will stay in place and provide regularly timed or slow release of medication.
The patches may include adhesive to help them stick to the skin and they are often designed to be thrown away after use. However, some use biomaterials that are engineered to dissolve and degrade over time so they completely disappear after use, without the need to remove them.
Nanomedicine may sound like something out of a sci-fi book, but this is the future. Nanotechnology utilizes nanoparticles to deliver medication or other types of medical aid to specific areas of the body. This area of science includes microfluidics, microarrays and biosensors.
Since these biomaterials are so tiny, they can move throughout the body without problems, as they’re the size of a molecule. They may encapsulate drugs or carry drugs to targeted tissues, as well as control the release of the medication. This is something that is still in its infancy, but it has great potential.
Imagine the ability to deliver a chemo drug not just into the blood, but directly to the source of the cancer? This could all but eliminate the side effects of many medications, since they would be directly delivered to the tissues that needed them.
While nanoparticles may not be that popular, they are available. The first nanoparticles were made up from liposomes and micelles and has already been FDA approved. At this point, those same nanoparticles can carry gold and magnetic nanoparticles, which makes it possible to transport drugs. They protect even water-soluble drugs to the target destination without being destroyed in the gastrointestinal system, so you can take a capsule and the medication will stay safe then move out to where it may be best utilized.
The Future of Biomaterials and Drug Delivery
Biomaterials and medications are constantly improving and growing. It’s not surprising then that the future will see a lot more growth in the variety of biomaterials and how they are use in drug delivery systems. You can expect to see scientists focusing more on these and working on a variety of options to provide more specific nanotechnology and better options for transdermal drug releases.
Science is moving quickly and the better we keep up with it, the more improvements we’ll see. From time release capsules to transdermal patches and everything in between, it’s becoming evident that there’s nothing we can’t do without a little imagination.
Biomaterials may not relate only to drug delivery systems, but they are certainly some of the best choices out there for helping repair the human body. We will see them used in combination in the future, to ensure a better world for all.