Active droplets – Long-lasting and precise dosing of medication thanks to an oil-hydrogel mixture

(Picture: A. Heddergott/TUM)

Using a mixture of oil droplets and hydrogel, medical active agents can be not only precisely dosed, but also continuously administered over periods of up to several days. The active agents inside the active droplets are released at a constant rate, decreasing the risk of over- or underdosage.

Rudolf-Mößbauer-Tenure-Track-Professor Job Boekhoven was studying the origins of life: Together with his team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the chemist wanted to understand how molecules in the primordial ocean had managed to combine and form the precursors of the first living cells.

However, the oily shield is not entirely impermeable: Some of the oil molecules react with the surrounding water. This hydrolysis causes the droplets to slowly but continuously lose mass and shrink until they eventually disappear. "The constant decay of these 'active droplets', led us to the idea of using them to dose drugs," recalls Boekhoven.


Active droplets in a hydrogel release drugs with a constant and tunable rate;
Caren Wanzke, Marta Tena-Solsona, Benedikt Riess, Laura Tebcharani, Job Boekhoven;
Materials Horizons, 12.02.2020 – DOI: 10.1039/C9MH01822K.

The full press release can be found here.