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US scientists have harnessed the power of microscopic bubbles to develop a unique and potentially more effective way of delivering drugs into the body.
Using the knowledge that collapsing bubbles produce a needle-like jet, a team of engineers at Duke University in North Carolina manipulated the tiny structures to control the power and direction of the emission, successfully puncturing the cell wall and injecting drugs directly into targeted cells.
Lead researcher Pei Zhong said his team had bounced bubbles off one another to observe how they interacted, learning that jets were propelled in opposite directions when two such structures collided – a pattern that enabled the scientists to target cells with a greater degree of accuracy than in past experiments.
Initial trials on rat tumours were highly successful, with the emission creating a hole measuring between 0.2 and 2 micrometres across – a puncture that allowed drugs to enter the cell without the entire structure collapsing.
Mr Zhong said he was hopeful the findings could be used to develop a targeted drug delivery system for humans.
Copyright Press Association 2010