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New Smart Material Has Potential for Diagnosing Diseases

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 01 Dec 2011
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A new "smart" material enables near-infrared light to penetrate over 10 cm into the human body.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego Skaggs School Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CA, USA) reported development and successful initial testing of the first practical “smart” material to use near-infrared (NIR) light that can penetrate into the human body. It has great potential for use in diagnosing diseases and engineering new human tissues in the lab. The low-power NIR does not damage body tissues as it passes.

Plastics that disintegrate when hit with NIR, for instance, could be filled with anticancer medicine, injected into tumors, and release the medicine when hit with NIR. Current NIR-responsive smart materials require high-power NIR light, which could damage cells and tissues. The new smart polymer was developed that responds to low-power NIR light. Hit with low-power NIR, the new material breaks apart into small pieces that appear to be nontoxic to surrounding tissue.

The scientists who developed the smart material envision, for instance, putting the polymer in an implantable "hydrogel," a water-containing flexible material used for tissue engineering and drug delivery. A hydrogel with the new polymer could release medications or imaging agents when hit with NIR.

The report on the new polymer or plastic-like material, which has potential for use in diagnosing diseases and engineering new human tissues in the lab, appears in ACS' journal Macromolecules in October 2011.

Related Links:

University of California, San Diego Skaggs School Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences



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