Interfacing materials science and biology for drug carrier design

Georgina K Such, Yan Yan, Angus P R Johnston, Sylvia T Gunawan, Frank Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last ten years, there has been considerable research interest in the development of polymeric carriers for biomedicine. Such delivery systems have the potential to significantly reduce side effects and increase the bioavailability of poorly soluble therapeutics. The design of carriers has relied on harnessing specific variations in biological conditions, such as pH or redox potential, and more recently, by incorporating specific peptide cleavage sites for enzymatic hydrolysis. Although much progress has been made in this field, the specificity of polymeric carriers is still limited when compared with their biological counterparts. To synthesize the next generation of carriers, it is important to consider the biological rationale for materials design. This requires a detailed understanding of the cellular microenvironments and how these can be harnessed for specific applications. In this review, several important physiological cues in the cellular microenvironments are outlined, with a focus on changes in pH, redox potential, and the types of enzymes present in specific regions. Furthermore, recent studies that use such biologically inspired triggers to design polymeric carriers are highlighted, focusing on applications in the field of therapeutic delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2278-2297
Number of pages20
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • cellular interactions
  • drug delivery
  • enzyme responsive
  • polymer carriers
  • redox potential

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