Making wrinkles: hydrogels that collapse into complex shapes may aid in drug delivery
The flexible properties of hydrogels — highly absorbent, gelatinous polymers that shrink and expand depending on environmental conditions such as humidity, pH and temperature — have made them ideal for applications from contact lenses to baby diapers and adhesives.
In recent years, researchers have investigated hydrogels' potential in drug delivery, engineering them into drug-carrying vehicles that rupture when exposed to certain environmental stimuli. Such vesicles may slowly release their contents in a controlled fashion; they may even contain more than one type of drug, released at different times or under various conditions. However, it's difficult to predict just how hydrogels will rupture, and up until now it's been difficult to control the shape into which a hydrogel morphs.
Nick Fang, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, says predicting how hydrogels transform could help in the design of more complex and effective drug-delivery systems.
Read more: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/making-wrinkles-0503.html