The same silicone used to caulk around doors and windows could someday become the vehicle used to deliver drugs to targeted tissues in the human body.
Chemists at the University of Illinois have developed a method of turning silicone into microspheres as small as a red blood cell. Using a method similar to that used in a home humidifier, the scientists were able to create a mist of ultra-fine droplets of silicone, which then solidified into tiny spheres. The spheres, researchers say, could be used to deliver time-release medications to specific tissues. Because the spheres are bio-inert, they would not react with chemicals in the body.
"With this new method, silicone microspheres can be easily and readily synthesized, facilitating the exploration of technologies that have only been speculated upon and creating novel technologies and new science in a number of scientific disciplines," said Jacqueline Rankin, the lead graduate student on this project, in a press release.