Nature Inspired Plastic Nanoparticles to Better Drug Deliver to Tumors

Scientists at the UNSW Sydney, have found a new way to control the shape of molecules of polymers so that they can self-assemble in a non-spherical nanoparticles – a development that can enhance the delivery of heavy drugs to tumors.

The senior author of the research study Professor Pall Thordarson of the UNSW School of Chemistry said that there very little in the nature that is perfectly spherical in shape. Majority of biological structures such as viruses, bacteria, and cells come in a wide range of shapes such as rods, squashed spheres, ellipsoids, or tubes. But it has been found very difficult for the researchers to synthesize particles which are not perfectly spherical.

He adds further that their breakthrough in the research study means that they can now predictably synthesize smart polymers that are able to shift their shapes depending on the different situations around them to form small tubular or ellipsoidal structures that will be able to encapsulate drugs.

The scientists now have the primary evidence that these more naturally shaped plastic nanoparticles can penetrate cells affected tumor with more ease than the spherical ones.

This study about the molecular shape of polymers was published in the Nature Communications journal.

This UNSW project is a joint association between Professor Thordarson and Professor of Scientia Martina Stenzel. They also work as the co-supervisor of the research of first author Chin Ken Wong, a UNSW PhD candidate. The team also has Alexander Mason.