Inkjet Printing of Synthesized Melanin Nanoparticles as a Biocompatible Matrix for Pharmacologic Agents
Melanin is a natural biopigment that is produced by melanocytes and can be found in most living organisms. The unique physical and chemical properties of melanin render it potentially useful for numerous applications, particularly those in which a biocompatible functional material is required. Herein, we introduce one important technology in which melanin can be utilized: a drug delivery system in terms of a biocompatible matrix. However, extracting melanin from different biological sources is
... logical sources is costly and time-consuming and introduces variabilities in terms of chemical structure, properties, and functions. Hence, a functionally reproducible system is hard to achieve using biologically extracted melanin. Here we report the synthesis of melanin nanoparticles of controlled uniform sizes and chemical characteristics. The optical, chemical, and structural characteristics of synthesized nanoparticles were characterized by optical confocal photoluminescence (PL) imaging, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and Zeta potentiometry. The melanin nanoparticles have 100 nm size and a narrow size distribution. The advantage of a nanoparticle structure is its enhanced surface-to-volume ratio compared to bulk pigments, which is important for applications in which controlling the microscopic surface area is essential. Using the inkjet printing technique, we developed melanin thin films with minimum ink waste and loaded them with methylene blue (our representative drug) to test the drug-loading ability of the melanin nanoparticles. Inkjet printing allowed us to create smooth uniform films with precise deposition and minimum ink-waste. The spectroscopic analysis confirmed the attachment of the "drug" onto the melanin nanoparticles as a matrix. Hence, our data identify melanin as a material system to integrate into drug release applications.