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Double-sided nanoparticles may hold potential for added functionality

By Simon Pitman , 07-Jun-2010
Last updated on 07-Jun-2010 at 17:38 GMT

A research project led by the University of Pennsylvania has discovered new information about the physical make up and mechanical properties of nano assemblies made from Janus dendrimers.

Dendrimersomes are basically a molecular sphere formed from many branches, while the Janus reference – from the Greek God with two heads – refers to the fact that the sphere has two dimensions, making it a two sided vesicle.

"Dendrimersomes marry the stability and mechanical strength obtainable from polymersomes, vesicles made from block copolymers, with the biological function of stabilized phospholipid liposomes, but with superior uniformity of size, ease of formation and chemical functionalization." said co-author Virgil Percec, professor of chemistry at University of Pennsylvannia,

Two-sided property gives added functionality

Because it has two-sided properties, the scientists involved in the study say that this gives the sphere amphiphilic properties, which means it can absorb different types of material on either side of the sphere.

On the one side it might be able to absorb fats such as liposomes, while on the other side it might be able to absorb water, the scientists claim.

In a nutshell, this means that each molecule can do two separate jobs concurrently, giving the material added functionality and enabling the formulation of infinitely more sophisticated and technically advanced personal care products.

Applications for highly functional cosmetics

The research has centered on applications for drug delivery, but it will also have specific applications for more technologically advanced nano-based cosmetic formulations such as skin care and sun care products.

The amphiphilic properties were developed by researchers working on the project, who managed to chemically combine hydrophilic and hydrophobic dendrons to create the amphiphilic Janus dendrimers,

This gives the particles an extensive range of morphologies, including cubosomes, disks, tubular vesicles and helical ribbons, the scientists say.

"These materials show special promise because their membranes are the thickness of natural bilayer membranes, but they have superior and tunable materials properties," said Hammer, the Alfred G. and Meta A. Ennis Professor of Bioengineering at Universtity of Pennsylvania.

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