Superhydrophobic materials for drug delivery
Yohe, Stefan Thomas
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Superhydrophobicity is a property of material surfaces reflecting the ability to maintain air at the solid-liquid interface when in contact with water. These surfaces have characteristically high apparent contact angles, by definition exceeding 150°, as a result of the composite material-air surface formed under an applied water droplet. Superhydrophobic surfaces were first discovered on naturally occurring substrates, and have subsequently been fabricated in the last several decades to harness these favorable surface properties for a number of emerging applications, including their use in biomedical settings. This work describes fabrication and characterization of superhydrophobic 3D materials, as well as their use as drug delivery devices. Superhydrophobic 3D materials are distinct from 2D superhydrophobic surfaces in that air is maintained not just at the surface of the material, but also within the bulk. When the superhydrophobic 3D materials are submerged in water, water infiltrates slowly and continuously as a new water-air-material interface 1s fonned with controlled displacement of air. Electrospinning and electrospraying are used to fabricate superhydrophobic 3D materials utilizing blends of the biocompatible polymers poly(ε-caprolactone) and poly(caprolactone-co-glycerol monostearate) (PGC-C18). PGC-C18 is significantly more hydrophobic than PCL (contact angle of 116° versus 83° for flat materials), and further additions of PGC-C18 into electrospun meshes and electrosprayed coatings affords increased stability of the entrapped air layer. For example, PCL meshes alone (500 µm thick) take 10 days to fully wet, and with 10% or 30% PGC-C18 addition wetting rates are dramatically slowed to 60% wetted by 77 days and 4% by 75 days, respectively. Stability of the superhydrophobic materials can be further probed with a variety of physio-chemical techniques, including pressure, surfactant containing solutions, and solvents of varying surface tension. Superhydrophobicity is shown to be enhanced with further increases in PGC-C18 content and surface roughness (a decrease in fiber size). We demonstrate the utility of superhydrophobicity as a method for drug delivery. When the camptothecin derivatives SN-38 and CPT-11 are encapsulated within electrospun meshes, changes in air layer stability (due to changes in PGC-C 18 content) dictate the rate of drug release by controlling the rate in which water can permeate into the porous 3D electrospun structure. Drug release can be tuned from 2 weeks to > 10 weeks from 300 µm meshes, and meshes effectively kill a variety of cancer cell lines (lung, colon, breast) when utilized in a cytotoxicity assay. After determining that air could be used to control the rate of drug release, superhydrophobic 3D materials are explored for three applications. First, meshes are considered as a potential combination reinforcement-drug delivery device for use in resectable colorectal cancer. Second, removal of the air layer in superhydrophobic meshes is used as a method to trigger drug release. The pressure generated from high-intensity focused ultrasound (0.75-4.25 MPa) can remove the air layer spatially and temporally, allowing drug release to be controlled with application of a sufficient treatment. Third, "connective" electrosprayed coatings are deposited on chemically distinct material surfaces, which are both three-dimensional and mechanically robust. In summary, superhydrophobic 3D materials are fabricated and characterized, and are utilized as drug delivery devices. Controlled air removal from these materials offers an entirely new strategy for drug delivery, and is promising for the applications considered in this work as well as many others.
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