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Targeted drug release feature

Sketch design for final stage of drug release feature. From our post on ‘Monopoles in magnetic ice‘ you might have worked out that we are currently developing research features for Nanofolio. The current project is targeted drug release, a technique which uses a smart polymer to unlock the cell’s endosomes, releasing a drug into the cytoplasm which would otherwise be destroyed by the cell’s defense mechanisms.

This is a development sketch from the last animation in the feature – it is the first design to be finalised, however, as we will need to re-use graphics from this animation earlier in the feature (which will probably have 3 animations in total, the others detailing how the endosome and the smart polymer work).

At the top we have a motif for the polymer – drug complex, this has to be recognisable at small scale, and we’re looking at a simple ‘dragon and ball’ sketch for this purpose. The ball in this is the drug – in this case Apoptin, and at large scale we need to make it clear that it is a functional moiety. We’ll do this with a manga-esque decal. We looked at two options – a skull and a daemon head. The skull is kind of appropriate, as Apoptin is a cell killer; but it is quite specific to tumour cells, so we though the simple death’s head didn’t really get over the fact that the drug itself is quite smart! So, we’re looking at a daemon’s head for the final production – this is a Classical Greek helmet affair – and we’ll probably go with electric blue clouration, to emphasise that it is (potentially) ‘one of the good guys’.

The drug-polymer complex is taken into the cell in an endosome, and it is pH changes in this that trigger the smart polymer to shatter the endosome membrane. As pH is not visible, we need to represent this easily to visitors. One option is ‘Universal Indicator Paper’ style colour change, but this might not mean much to a lot of people, as well as being rather too crude – the smart polymer switches on at only just below serum pH levels. To get round this we’re going to display the pH on a little meter attached to the endosome. The meter is likely to get in the way of the apoptin release when that occurs, so we’ve also got a little transition, switching sides for the meter if necessary, so the action is clear…

Now all we have to do is make it all work!

You can see other (completed) research features in nanotechnology on the Nanofolio website:

Nanotechnology research features on Nanofolio