Rock n’ research: Good vibrations from AC/DC help coat cancer drugs

loudspeakerAC/DC’sThunderstruck track has been used by UniSA researchers to help coat cancer fighting drugs with a plasma polymer, designed to improve the efficiency of the drugs.

Researchers at the University’s Future Industries Institute discovered that playing the classic Australian rock song through a loud speaker caused porous silicon microparticles (which have been packed with a chemotherapy drug called camptothecin) to vibrate in a vacuum, creating greater surface area for those particles to be given a plasma polymer overlay.

The polymer overlay is used to prevent the drug from escaping from the porous microparticles, effectively increasing the drug’s therapeutic window.

Senior research author Professor Nico Voelcker described the process as an optimal way of coating the microparticles, whereas igniting the plasma with the particles resting on a surface would result in only one side of the particles being coated.

“We would tune that loudspeaker to a song that it would vibrate and the particles would bounce up and down. The chaotic frequencies worked well and gave you a more homogenous coating," Prof Voelcker says.

“It’s a technique that could also be potentially used in other treatments, involving coatings and drugs.”

As to the choice of song, both lyrically and musically Thunderstruck hits the right note compared to more ambient or easy listening music.

 “We found that hardrock worked particularly well, but the song Thunderstruck was chosen because the coating was done in a plasma, and thunder is an example of a plasma as well,” Prof Voelcker says.

'Thunderstruck: Plasma-Polymer-Coated Porous Silicon Microparticles As A Controlled Drug Drug Delivery System" was first published in the American Chemistry Society.

Contact for interview: Nico Voelcker (08) 8302 25508 email Nico.Voelcker@unisa.edu.au

 Media contact: Will Venn office +61 883020096 mob 0401366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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