Surface-functionalized diatom microcapsules for drug delivery of water-insoluble drugs

Moom Aw, Bariana Manpreet, Yang Yu, Jonas Addai-Mensah, Dusan Losic

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    73 Citations (Scopus)


    Naturally available and biocompatible materials are potential substitutes for synthetic mesoporous materials as suitable drug carriers for the development of cost-effective drug delivery systems. This work investigates the application of a porous silica material derived from diatoms, also known as diatomaceous earth. The aim is to explore the surface functionalization of diatom microcapsules and their impact on the drug loading and release characteristics of water-insoluble drugs. Indomethacin was used as the model for poorly soluble drug. The surface modification on diatoms was performed with two organosilanes; 3-aminopropyltriethoxy silane and N-(3-(trimethoxysilyl) propyl) ethylene diamine and phosphonic acids (2-carboxyethyl-phosphonic acid and 16-phosphono-hexadecanoic acid) providing organic surface hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. Extensive characterizations using scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry was performed to confirm covalent grafting of monolayer aminosilane and phosphonic acid on the diatom surfaces. Differences in loading capacity of diatoms (15-24%) and release time (6-15 days) were observed which is due to the presence of different functional groups on the surface. It was found that 2-carboxyethyl-phosphonic acid, 3-aminopropyltriethoxy silane and N-(3-(trimethoxysilyl) propyl) ethylene diamine render diatom surfaces hydrophilic, due to polar carboxyl functional group (COOH) and active amine species (NH and NH2) that favor drug adsorption; better encapsulation efficiency and prolonged release of drugs, over the hydrophobic surface created by 16-phosphono-hexadecanoic acid. This work demonstrates diatom porous silica as a promising drug carrier, with possibility to further improve their performances by tailoring their surface functionalities to achieve the required drug loading and release characteristics for different therapeutic conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-174
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Biomaterials Applications
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


    • diatomaceous earth
    • diatoms
    • Drug delivery
    • indomethacin
    • phosphonic acid
    • silanes
    • surface modifications


    Dive into the research topics of 'Surface-functionalized diatom microcapsules for drug delivery of water-insoluble drugs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this