Synthesis, toxicology and potential of ordered mesoporous materials in nanomedicine
Although ordered mesoporous silica materials have been studied for almost 20 years, their utilization within life science applications is relatively new and unexplored. An increasing number of researchers are transcending their respective fields in order to bridge the knowledge gap between materials chemistry and biotechnology, and to exploit the potential of mesoporous materials. Their intricate porosity with order in the nanoscale translates into high surface areas above 1000 m2/g, high selectivity for the encapsulation of biorelevant molecules as well as controlled surface chemistry. Their uses in pharmaceutics to improve drug formulation, drug bioavailability, mitigate drug toxicity and in cellular targeting, through controlled drug delivery strategies, have been shown. The incorporation of a high concentration of fluorescent and nuclear markers within their pores, whilst retaining good diffusion through their porous matrix, has shown them to be ideal candidates for sensing devices, in immunoassays such as flow cytometry and for their use in novel theranostic applications. This article aims to bring to the forefront some of the most important properties of mesoporous materials, which prove advantageous for their use in nanomedical applications and to highlight some of the potential areas into which the field may now emerge.