The development of biomaterials to treat, repair, or reconstruct the human body is an increasingly important component of materials research. Collaboration between materials researchers and their industrial and clinical partners is essential for the development of this complex field. To demonstrate the importance of these interactions, two articles in this issue focus on advances in biomaterials relating to the use of colloidal systems for transport, drug delivery, and other medical applications. These articles were coordinated by Dominique Muster (Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg) and Franz Burny (Hôpital Erasme, Brussels). The following is the second of these two articles.
There are two important objectives in drug delivery research. The first is to maximize the effectiveness of drugs by increasing the amount of drug reaching the target tissue while sparing other tissues the deleterious effects of the drug. The second is to control the release of a drug, so that the period of optimal drug concentration in the target tissue is maximized. A numbe r of different Systems have been investigated to achieve these objectives, including soluble polymeric delivery Systems and a range of colloidal drug delivery forms such as liposomes, emulsions, micelles, microcapsules, microparticles, and nanoparticles. This article focuses on polymeric materials for the production of micro- or nanoparticle Systems for dru g delivery by injection, and their characterization and Performance in vivo.
Colloidal particles have a number of advantages as drug delivery Systems; they are easy to prepare, have the potential for high drug loading, and release of the drug can be controlled. However, without surface modification, colloidal particles are difficult to target because they are directed largely to the liver and spieen after intravenous injection. The reasons for this can be found in the context of the body's defenses. In order to protect against disease, the body has a complex System to ensure that invading microorganisms are identified and neutralized at the earliest possible opportunity. Most parasitic or invading organisms which pose a threat are particulate in form, and thus any colloidal drug delivery System will have to evade detection by these mechanisms in order to reach its target.