Biomaterials with 'logic gates' release therapeutics in response to environmental triggers

ScienceDaily | 1/15/2018 | Staff
trainman (Posted by) Level 3
To reduce this collateral damage, scientists have long sought specificity in drug delivery systems: A package that can encase a therapeutic and will not disgorge its toxic cargo until it reaches the site of treatment -- be it a tumor, a diseased organ or a site of infection.

In a paper published Jan. 15 in the journal Nature Chemistry, scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have built and tested a new biomaterial-based delivery system -- known as a hydrogel -- that will encase a desired cargo and dissolve to release its freight only when specific physiological conditions are met. These environmental cues could include the presence of an enzyme or even the acidic conditions that could be found in a tumor microenvironment. Critically, the triggers that cause dissolution of the hydrogel can be switched out easily in the synthesis process, allowing researchers to create many different packages that open up in response to unique combinations of environmental cues.

Team - UW - Chemical - Engineering - Assistant

The team, led by UW chemical engineering assistant professor Cole DeForest, designed this hydrogel using the same principles behind simple mathematical logic statements -- those at the heart of basic programming commands in computer science.

"The modular strategy that we have developed permits biomaterials to act like autonomous computers," said DeForest, who is also a member of both the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine and the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute. "These hydrogels can be programmed to perform complex computations based on inputs provided exclusively by their local environment. Such advanced logic-based operations are unprecedented, and should yield exciting new directions in precision medicine."

Hydrogels - Water - Remainder - Networks - Polymers

Hydrogels are more than 90 percent water; the remainder consists of networks of biochemical polymers. Hydrogels can be engineered to ferry a variety of therapeutics, such as pharmaceutical products, special cells or signaling molecules, for purposes including...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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