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A Photo-triggered On-demand Drug Delivery System for Chronic Pain

Final Report Summary - NANOHEDONISM (A Photo-triggered On-demand Drug Delivery System for Chronic Pain)

The aim of the project was to develop injectable and biodegradable drug-loaded nanoparticles that release the drug after receiving an externally applied infrared laser light to activate pulsatile release profiles on demand. In this project we developed vehicles that transport drugs and release their cargo locally at the site of injection and during the time required to adjust the dose to the specific needs. Thus, a temporal and spatial control of the release of different drugs was achieved. This technology would potentially allow the patient or the doctor to decide when to administer the drug and in a minimally invasive manner (with only an injection) and to provide therapeutic analgesic doses for the time strictly necessary (i.e. spatio-temporal control).
Many conventional controlled drug release systems can allow a sustained release over time but do not permit a modulated release at any number of times adapted to the needs of the patient allowing them to meet their daily physical activity. These conventional systems also cannot stop the release until the drug is depleted. However, there are many conditions that require the appropriate release of a given drug at a specific time such as diabetes, hormonal disorders, sciatica, etc. The project aims to overcome this limitation. Today encapsulated drugs can be released in a controlled manner in response to specific biochemical stimuli or by taking advantage of the natural physiology of the host (passive release). Also the release can be activated in response to physical stimuli (light, electric field, magnetism, etc.). However, once this activation occurs there is nothing to stop it. The development of reversible systems that allow drug release where and when it is needed is at the heart of this project. Furthermore, a local drug release reduces and minimizes potential side effects in healthy tissues characteristic of systemic administrations.
These injectable nanoparticles are made of biocompatible materials and the nanoparticle synthesis is being carried out using microfluidic reactors and supported by computational fluid dynamics to manufacture and control the amount of drug contained in each of the particles, to produce them on a large scale and also to avoid the characteristic heterogeneities which occur when using conventional batch reactors. The biocompatibility and efficacy of the developed light-triggered nanocapsules were validated in vitro and in vivo. Over the course of this 5-year project, thanks to the consolidation of our biomedical group we have published 67 scientific papers indexed in WoS directly or indirectly related to this biomedical research.