At the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, researchers have developed a new set of materials designed to deliver drugs inside the body and melt away when illuminated with light.
The materials are made of a polymer seeded with nano-sized gold shell nanoparticles. When light from a near-infrared (NIR) laser is applied to the material, it melts and reveals whatever it is ferrying.
One of the advantages of the material is that unlike many similar approaches, it relies on light frequencies that can penetrate fairly deep into the body without causing it damage compared to light of shorter wavelengths. Nevertheless, the energy delivered is enough to create enough heat to melt away the polymer, itself an FDA cleared material.
Each of the materials can have different melting points, allowing them to be produced specifically for certain applications. So far, though, this is still a laboratory project that will still involve creating actual melt-away particles that carry drugs before trying it on animal models.
Yet, the technology looks promising and may play a role in killing tumors, treating injuries, and acting as a foundation for new tissue to grow.
Here’s a short animation of the polymer melting under NIR light:
Study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: Near-Infrared Light Induced Phase Transition of Biodegradable Composites for On-Demand Healing and Drug Release…