Development of drug delivery systems (DDS) is essential in many cases to remedy the limitations of free drug molecules. Silica has been of great interest as a DDS due to being more robust and versatile than other types of DDS (e.g., liposomes). Using ibuprofen as a model drug, we investigated bioinspired silica (BIS) as a new DDS and compared it to mesoporous silica (MS); the latter has received much attention for drug delivery applications. BIS is synthesized under benign conditions without the use of hazardous chemicals, which enables controllable in situ loading of drugs by carefully designing the DDS formulation conditions. Here, we systematically studied these conditions (e.g., chemistry, concentration, and pH) to understand BIS as a DDS and further achieve high loading and release of ibuprofen. Drug loading into BIS could be enhanced (up to 70%) by increasing the concentration of the bioinspired additive. Increasing the silicate concentration increased the release to 50%. Finally, acidic synthesis conditions could raise loading efficiency to 62% while also increasing the total mass of drug released. By identifying ideal formulation conditions for BIS, we produced a DDS that was able to release fivefold more drug per weight of silica when compared with MCM-41. Biocompatibility of BIS was also investigated, and it was found that, although ∼20% of BIS was able to pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream, it was nonhemolytic (∼2% hemolysis at 500 μg mL–1) when compared to MS (10% hemolysis at the same concentration). Overall, for DDS, it is clear that BIS has several advantages over MS (ease of synthesis, controllability, and lack of hazardous chemicals) as well as being less toxic, making BIS a real potentially viable green alternative to DDS.
- biomedical devices