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Ultrasonic synthesis of oil-filled protein and polysaccharide microcapsules

Final Report Summary - SONOCAPS (Ultrasonic synthesis of oil-filled protein and polysaccharide microcapsules)

Sonocaps - Ultrasonics synthesis of oil-filled proteins and polysaccharides microcapsules- was a two years (2009-2010) joint research project supported by the IRSES International Research Staff Exchange Funding Scheme. The partnership was composed of the Department of Chemical Science and Technologies, University of Rome (Italy), The School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne (AU), Department of Chemistry, University of Bath (UK). The University of Rome was responsible for the coordination of the project activities. Sonocaps was focused on the design of new, integrated microdevices (Figure 1) for imaging and controlled drug release.
The fabrication of microcapsules made of polypetides, polysaccharides and biocompatible synthetic polymers raises a great interest in the biomaterials scenario. Such systems could solve problems associated with the delivery of conventional drugs and drug carriers, including poor site selectivity, polymer toxicity, non-biodegradability and free diffusion of drugs throughout the body. Achieving this goal has the potential to positively impact on the prevention, early diagnosis and "smart" treatment of diseases providing direct societal advantages.
The outcomes and achievements of scientific results in Sonocaps are briefly outlined:
1) Ultrasonic synthesis of oil-filled and air filled microcapsules using protein, polysaccharide and biocompatible synthetic polymers was successfully achieved. A schematic of the used technology is illustrated in Scheme 1.
2) Structural and functional characterization of microcapsules properties were completed.
3) Ultrasonic encapsulation of ascorbic acid and doxorubicin into the core of the microcapsules was achieved and the stability and biological activity of encapsulated bioactive molecules were successfully evaluated.
4) Ultrasound triggered release of bioactive molecules and drugs from microcaspules was studied using model systems.
The success of Sonocaps has led to the publication of 3 papers in international journals and 3 papers submitted for publication to international journals in the area of Sonochemistry, Soft Matters and Biomedicine, (see attached document). A number of invited talks and communications were presented at conferences.
In addition to achieving scientific results in the ultrasonic synthesis of biocompatible microcapsules for delivery of therapeutic agents, the Sonocaps project also generated additional benefits for the partners in terms of transfer of knowledge and generated a basis for sustainable cooperation. Sonocaps allowed the strengthening of a research partnerships through exchanges of eight researchers and networking activities (seminars, conferences) between the University of Rome Tor Vergata, The University of Melbourne and the University of Bath. European and Australian researchers (academic staff and early stage researcher) have been introduced to the new technologies of ultrasonic synthesis of materials and biomaterials broadening their research and academic skills. The IRSES Mobility Programme provided support to the two European research organisations to establish and reinforce long-term research co-operation with Australia. Australian partner was supported by the Australian Academy of Science according the S&T agreement UE-AU. For continuing the collaborative research activities for a long-term the partnership put effort in applying, in the last two years, for Collaborative/STREP research projects within 7th Framework programme funding schemes. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding (5 years) between the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" and the University of Melbourne focused to the exchange of MSc and PhD students has been signed by the two educational Institutions. Socio-economic impact of the overall project are described in the attached document.