A study was performed in the University of Notre Dame where it was discovered that the properties of the material used to create conductive or protective films to encapsulate drug compounds, and in which the material will disassemble to release the medication are not same as initially thought.
Prior to encapsulation, the drug enhancements were performed for the purpose of drug protection in the forms of coating technology. Later, microencapsulation for pharmaceutical drugs was discovered. The encapsulation immobilization application mainly focused on the controlled-release system of drug delivery. Drug release cannot be controlled without encapsulation or coating. Thus, drug encapsulation provides a layer of protection for the gradual release of its drug content when it is naturally dissolved or diffused. A more stable, large-sized encapsulation has a more prolonged release rate of up to weeks or even months.
According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the study identified the conditions under which polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) would join. The researchers compared between strong and weak polyelectrolyte complexes, where the mechanism of strong polyelectrolyte complexes is very different from the weak polyelectrolyte complexes. The weak polyelectrolytes resulted in strong pKa shift in the presence of an opposite charged polymer, enabling both polyelectrolytes to become highly charged and to stay stable. While pH has an influence on charge and assembly of strong polyelectrolyte complexes, whose strong binding to salt ions determines most of their assembly.
Weak polyelectrolyte complexes can be used to create capsules that hold medications. They also have the unique ability to bond and release in certain environments, but pH has affected the overall assembly of weak polyelectrolyte complexes. This study shows the physical mechanism of the polyelectrolyte complexes, which enable the engineer to make better polyelectrolyte complexes for smart encapsulation and delivery of medications, thin conductive materials, and protective coatings.
Jonathan Whitmer, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame, investigated the study and developed a novel simulation algorithm. This algorithm showed the researchers to analyze certain aspects of weak polyelectrolyte complexes that were not possible before.