Intelligent delivery via enzyme active hydrogels
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Advances in medical treatment are leading away from generalized care towards intelligent systems or devices which can sense and respond to their environment. With these devices, the burden of monitoring and dosing for treatment can be removed from the doctor (or the patient) and be placed on the device itself. Implicit closed-loop control systems will allow the device to respond to its environment and release therapeutic agent in response to a specific stimulus. Environmentally responsive hydrogels show great promise in being incorporated in such an intelligent device, such as pH-responsive hydrogels which can swell and deswell in response to changes in the pH of the media. Thus, pH changes can be exploited for controlled and intelligent drug delivery when used in combination with these pH-responsive hydrogels. In this work, heterogeneous, thermal-redox initiated free-radical polymerizations were developed to synthesize novel pH-responsive hydrogels, microparticles, and nanogels. The specific disease of interest was type I diabetes, which requires daily doses of insulin both at a basal amount and either a postprandial or preprandial bolus in order to maintain blood glucose levels within safe limits. To allow pH-responsive hydrogels to be sensitive to glucose, glucose oxidase was incorporated which oxidizes glucose to gluconic acid. A novel inverse-emulsion polymerization method was developed for the synthesis of poly[2-(diethylaminoethyl methacrylate)-grafted-polyethylene glycol monoethyl ether monomethacrylate] (P(DEAEM-g-PEGMMA)) nanogels (100-400 nm) for intelligent insulin delivery. The new polymerization method allowed the incorporation of hydrophilic components, such as glucose oxidase and catalase, as well as PEG surface tethers of lengths 400 Da up to 2000 Da. Surface tethers successfully decreased the surface charge of the nanogels. Insulin loading and release was determined for microparticles which were able to imbibe substantial amounts of insulin from solution when swollen, entrap the insulin when collapsed, and then release the insulin in response to either a pH or glucose stimulus.