Intrigued by the deceptive simplicity and beauty of macromolecular self-assembly, our laboratory began studying models of self-assembly using solids, glasses, and colloidal substrates. These studies have defined a fundamental new colloidal material for supporting members of a biochemically reactive pair.
The technology, a molecular transportation assembly, is based on preformed carbon ceramic nanoparticles and self assembled calcium-phosphate dihydrate particles to which glassy carbohydrates are then applied as a nanometer thick surface coating. This carbohydrate coated core functions as a dehydroprotectant and stabilizes surface immobilized members of a biochemically reactive pair. The final product, therefore, consists of three layers. The core is comprised of the ceramic, the second layer is the dehydroprotectant carbohydrate adhesive, and the surface layer is the biochemically reactive molecule for which delivery is desired.
We have characterized many of the physical properties of this system and have evaluated the utility of this delivery technology in vitro and in animal models. Physical characterization has included standard and high resolution transmission electron microscopy, electron and x-ray diffraction and ζ potential analysis. Functional assays of the ability of the system to act as a nanoscale dehydroprotecting delivery vehicle have been performed on viral antigens, hemoglobin, and insulin. By all measures at present, the favorable physical properties and biological behavior of the molecular transportation assembly point to an exciting new interdisciplinary area of technology development in materials science, chemistry and biology.