Liposomes are composed of an enclosed lipid bilayer forming what is known as a vesicle. The bilayer is composed of phospholipids, in which the heads are hydrophilic and the tails hydrophobic, ensuring that the membrane is not permeated by aqueous solution. Inside the vesicle is a solute, hydrophilic in nature, that will not pass through the hydrophobic region of the bilayer. This effectively contains the solute and its contents.
The medical purpose of these artificial vesicles includes that of drug delivery, bio-detoxification, and the transfection of DNA. Because they are composed of a natural lipid bilayer, they are able to merge with other bilayers such as that of a cell membrane. This fusion of bilayers merges the contents of the vesicle and the cell.
As the convergence of a liposome with a cell merges the contents of the liposome with that of the cell, these artificial vesicles create a favorable means for administering drugs. The vesicles can be assembled in such a way that they contain the drug inside them. The advantage of this method of drug delivery is that it inhibits the release of the drug and interaction with the body in unintended locations.
Empty Liposomes can also be used to detoxify the body when it has been exposed to an excess drug intake. They are typically injected into the bloodstream, and fashioned to capture the drug contents within them by means of a transmembrane pH gradient. Consequently surrounded by the vesicle’s lipid bilayer, the drug is forbidden from continuing to react with the body, reducing the harmful effects of excessive dosage.
These artificially-crafted vesicles also offer a means to modify the DNA within a cell. Their purpose, similar to that in drug applications, is to deliver genetic material into a cell. The expression of new genetic material can provide the cell with an ability it did not previously have.
Though the construction of Liposomes is achieved artificially, the characteristic lipid bilayer easily merges with naturally-occurring body membranes. They work with the body while completing their method of delivery. The introduction of these vesicles into drug and genetic applications has expanded the role of human intervention in cell processes, promoting increased control of the way that certain drugs react with the body.
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