The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting a new research group at Freie Universität Berlin that is investigating so-called thermoresponsive nanogels. The nanogels are delivery systems for the transport of active substances that can be used, for example, in the treatment of cancer. The federal grant amounts to 2.1 million euros over the next four years. The research group is led by Dr. Marcelo Calderón from the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Freie Universität Berlin.
Nanogels are networks of polymers in the order of several tens to hundreds of nanometers, which have been developed as carrier systems for the transport of active ingredients. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or a millionth of a millimeter. So far, it has not been possible to specifically enrich such delivery systems or to control the release of the drugs. This is important for the increase in the so-called therapeutic index, which is a requirement for the safety of a drug. The aim is to develop drugs with improved efficacy and fewer side effects.
The scientists working with the junior research group leader Dr. Marcelo Calderón at Freie Universität Berlin are seeking a solution to this problem. They aim to develop novel thermoresponsive nanogels that can be used to transport drugs in cancer therapy in a targeted and controlled manner. After injection, these novel nanocarriers would circulate in the bloodstream and due to their size, specifically accumulate in the tumor tissue. Following an external stimulus with near-infrared light, the encapsulated drug molecules, for example chemotherapeutic agents, are selectively released to a precise location. This is expected to reduce the risk of side effects and release the drug in a controlled time-dose profile.
The junior research group is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the NanoMatFutur funding program. This program aims to create new nanotechnologies and innovative materials technologies.