The past decade has brought forth a multitude of new drug delivery technologies; these novel pharmaceutical agents, drug conjugates, polymeric and lipid carries and implantable biomaterials are revolutionizing a vision of how medical illnesses should be treated. Drug delivery research follows a simple scientific principle (to delivery drugs only where and when they are needed) in order to achieve sustained, regionally specific and targeted pharmaceutical action.
In spite of the promise that drug delivery technology will allow exact spatial and temporal control over medical therapy, few out of the many potential products have been developed into successful clinical therapies. The translation of drug delivery research from benchtop to bedside is hindered for industrial reasons – cost, safety and regulatory and large-scale manufacturing issues – as well as scientific roadblocks. These scientific roadblocks arrive in a variety of guises, yet they might be summarized by a straightforward concept: in the complex adaptive system of the human body, there are many variables to consider.
Predicting the therapeutic effect of drugs in the body is a complex and diverse challenge that could be approached from a variety of angles. It is the purpose of this research to explore the parameter space of drug delivery in several model systems, proceeding from biomaterial to target tissue to biological effect. First, we will examine the factors that govern release of a model hydrophobic drug from the polymeric coating of a vascular stent that is currently in clinical use. Second, the interaction of the same drug with target tissue site components will be considered in a ex vivo tissue mimic of the arterial wall. Third, the pharmacokinetic requirements for neurotrophic factor delivery in the brain will be examined in behavioral and biochemical models of biological effect. It is the intent of this thesis to address a fundamental problem in drug delivery, namely, how to quantify biological and physical parameters that are necessary for effective biomaterial design.
(For the two people who read this blog that I went to ASU with, the complex adaptive systems reference was intentional. Thank you Drs. Pizziconi and Coursen for preventing the phrase "things don't always work out the way we expect them to" from entered this draft of the introduction)
On that note of cheery jubilation (and I do apologize for the work-related interjection, although since I'm starting a process that's going to end in a thesis defense, you might be hearing more), I'd like to share something else that put a smile on my face today: