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Chementator: Soy polymers may have a future in drug delivery  

By Gerald Ondrey |

Soy-oil-based hydrogels developed by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) show promise as biodegradable encapsulants for drug delivery. Scientists at ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (Peoria, Ill.; edlinks.chemengonline.com/7373-539) have collaborated with researchers at the University of Toronto to encapsulate the breast-cancer drug doxorubicin in hydrogel nanoparticles. In drug-release experiments, the product proved eight times more toxic to cancerous cell lines than conventional lipid-water solutions of the drug. ARS makes the hydrogels by ring-opening polymerization of epoxidized soy oil in an organic solvent (for example, methylene dichloride or ethyl acetate), using a cationic catalyst, such as boron trifluoride. Sodium hydroxide solution is used to hydrolyze the polymers. Hydrogels, an aqueous solution containing 3 – 5% polymer, are formed by adjusting the pH, says Sevim Erhan, an ARS chemist. Nanoparticles are formed by subjecting the gel to ultrasound and drug-encapsulation is achieved by mixing the drug in the gel prior to ultrasonication. Originally, ARS set out to develop a renewable, biodegradable substitute for petroleum-derived polymers, such as polyacrylic acid and polyacrylamide,…
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