Shedding light on drug delivery

A new mechanism for using light to activate drug-delivering nanoparticles and other targeted therapeutic substances inside the body has been developed by US researchers. Near-infrared (NIR) from a low-power laser heats pockets of water trapped within non-photo-responsive polymeric nanoparticles infused with a therapeutic drug. The water pockets absorb the NIR as heat, which softens the encapsulating polymer and allows the drug to be released into the surrounding diseased tissue, for instance. The process can be repeated with precise control of the amount and dispersal of the drug, the researchers suggest.