NEW controlled drug-delivery systems are being explored to overcome the disadvantages of conventional dosage forms1. For example, stimulated drug-delivery has been used to overcome the tolerance problems that occur with a constant delivery rate, to mimic the physiological pattern of hormonal concentration and to supply drugs on demand1,2. Stimuli-sensitive polymers, which are potentially useful for pulsed drug delivery, experience changes in either their structure or their chemical properties in response to changes in environmental conditions2. Environmental stimuli include temperature3,4, pH5,6, light (ultraviolet7 or visible8), electric field9-12 or certain chemicals13. Volume changes of stimuli-sensitive gel networks are particularly responsive to external stimuli, but swelling is slow to occur14,15. As well as being useful in the controlled release of drugs, such systems also provide insight into intermolecular interactions16. Here we report on a novel polymeric system, which rapidly changes from a solid state to solution in response to small electric currents, by disintegration of the solid polymer complex into two water-soluble polymers. We show that the modulated release of insulin, and by extension other macromolecules, can be achieved with this polymeric system.
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