Three possible pharmaceutical application of microfluidics
Microfluidics is versatile tool for the accurate creation of emulsions, dispersions, particles, droplets and bubbles on the microscale.
Using microfluidic technology enables the creation of highly uniform microspheres. These can be microbubbles, microdroplets or microparticles which can be solidified after or during formation. The uniformity achievable meets, and in most cases exceeds, international standards on monodispersity and has diverse applications in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics industries.
Targeted drug delivery
The concept of targeted drug delivery using microfluidics in conjunction with ultrasound is where the medicine is applied to the microbubbles outer shell and using the ultrasound monitor the patient until the contrast agent reaches the site being targeted, i.e. the tumorous growth or lesion.
Once the contrast agent is at the site, then the ultrasound field is used to burst the microbubbles, thereby releasing the drug where it is most needed and can work most effectively. Advantages of this technique included:
- Reduction in the dose required, as drugs are only released at the affected site.
- Reduction in side-effects, as drugs are not circulating and effecting other areas of the body, but are focused on the site where they are needed.
Ultimately this leads to a next generation in medicine where treatments are personalised and the patient is treated as an individual, not the disease.
Tissue engineering & Cell analysis
Hydrogels are water insoluble, crosslinked, three-dimensional networks of polymer chains with water that fills the voids between the polymer chains. Due to their high water content, porosity and soft consistency, they closely simulate natural living tissue, more so than any other class of synthetic biomaterials. Because they closely simulate natural living tissue hydrogel particles are widely used in cell sorting, tissue engineering and drug delivery for sustained release.
You can read more about applications for hydrogels by clicking here.
Poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid copolymers (PLGA) are widely used as drug delivery systems due to excellent bioproperties including, biodegradation and biocompatibility. Its use is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as means for drug delivery in certain therapies. A key advantage to targeted and slow released drugs is the control over dose and direct delivery within the body. Both of these aspects are supported by the uniform and controlled size of the microparticles as well as the matrix structure of the particle. This is even more important for PLGA microparticles being used as “zero-order”, pulsatile or tandem release drug carriers
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