Chemistry

Tiny Cocktails

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Science  31 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6136, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6136.1017-a
CREDIT: M. WINDBERGS ET AL., JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY (30 APRIL 2013) © 2013 AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

The effective treatment of many diseases, especially cancer and AIDS, requires the synergistic interaction of several drugs; their delivery is often referred to as a "cocktail." Although several drugs can be combined into one delivery agent, the different rates of systemic uptake, solubility, and clearance make it challenging to deliver all of the drugs simultaneously. Windbergs et al. have used a microfluidic platform to create core-shell particles in which a hydrophobic drug (paclitaxel) forms the shell and a hydrophilic drug (doxorubicin hydrochloride) is carried in the core. The particles, which have an overall diameter of less than 100 µm, were made with two glass capillaries drawn to fine tips inside a microfluidic channel. The finer capillary (with an ∼20-µm opening) held an aqueous solution of the core drug on the inside, and the fluid outside this capillary carried the shell drug dissolved in a food-grade lipid. This capillary tip pointed toward the opening of a wider tip (with an ∼100-µm opening) facing the opposite direction. The action of a third solvent (a solution of polyvinyl alcohol in water) on the outside of the larger capillary drew in both fluids from the smaller one and created the core-shell droplets. The particles were stable upon drying and could be processed to form free-flowing powders. The viability of the drugs was confirmed in testing on immortalized human cervical cancer cell lines. Delivery in the body can be tuned by using a lipid that melts near body temperature or by relying on lipid degradation in the gastrointestinal tract.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/ja401422r (2013).

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