Transporting drugs into the body can be hit-or-miss because many delicate molecules break down before they reach their target. In an attempt to develop protective drug-delivery tools, materials scientists have now fabricated micron-size polymer vesicles that are sturdy enough to navigate the bloodstream unscathed and yet release their cargoes on target.
In the past few years, several research groups have focused on developing drug carriers called liposomes (SN: 1/18/03, p. 43: Delivering the Goods). The membranes of these hollow spheres consist of fatty molecules—lipids—in the same arrangement as that of similar lipids in a living cell's membrane. However, liposomes themselves are fragile; their membranes are "as thin as soap bubbles'," notes Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield in England.
To fabricate tougher liposomelike vesicles, Timothy Deming at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Darrin Pochan of the Unive