A key issue in modern healthcare is the development of new ways to safely deliver drugs to the areas of the body in which they are needed. With an aging population and ever more complex drug compounds, novel delivery vehicles are highly sought after. A team of researchers is developing a new material based on supramolecular gels with tailored long-term release kinetics. These gels are made of small organic molecules that can aggregate into one-dimensional fibres, mimicking the properties of larger molecules such as gelatin that are traditional used to create gels. This gives them improved characteristics such as easier processing and reduced incompatibilities.
In work published in Chemical Communications, the researchers used quasi-elastic neutron scattering on LET to probe the diffusion behaviour of the liquid phase in a model supramolecular gel. Their results showed that the solvent diffuses faster in the gel network compared to the bulk solvent measured on the picosecond timescale and nanometer length scale. They attributed this to the breaking of the hydrogen bonding of the solvent by the surface of the hydrophobic gel fibres, and the lowering of the solvent viscosity directly around the fibres. The results of this study will inform future research on influencing the diffusion of drug molecules in supramolecular gels.
Related publication: “Increased rate of solvent diffusion in a prototypical supramolecular gel measured on the picosecond timescale", Chem. Commun., 2018, 54, 6340, DOI: 10.1039/c8cc02962h
Authors: Tilo Seydel (Institut Laue-Langevin), Robert M. Edkins (University of Oxford, University of Strathclyde), Christopher D. Jones (Queen's University Belfast), Jonathan A. Foster (Sheffield University), Robert Bewley (ISIS), Juan A. Aguilar (Durham University) and Katharina Edkins (Queen's University Belfast).