Hydrogels loaded with liquid metal nanoparticles for controlled drug release

2022 – 2023

03 88 41 70 24


Australian partner:





Severe spasticity is a motor symptom observed in many neurological disorders, including strokes and multiple sclerosis. Continuous intrathecal infusion of baclofen, a muscle relaxant, is the reference treatment. However, it is very invasive, costly, and can lead to several complications. To overcome these issues, this project proposes to develop hydrogels to allow a controlled and prolonged release of baclofen. The release of baclofen will be remotely triggered upon near-infrared light irradiation thanks to the incorporation of a low percentage of gallium-based liquid metal nanoparticles in the hydrogels. These hydrogels are expected to achieve a controlled baclofen delivery and reduce the side effects of the drug, whilst being less invasive and painful. Collaborative research between the Laboratory of Immunology, Immunopathology and Therapeutic Chemistry (CNRS) and the Centre for Advanced Solid and Liquid based Electronics and Optics (UNSW) will allow achieving scientific excellence to exploit the unique and outstanding properties of liquid metal nanoparticles and hydrogels, and to tackle the challenge which is faced in many neurological disorders.

Main objectives of research

This project is aimed at optimizing and using hydrogels to precisely modulate the release rate of baclofen to allow a prolonged drug release. The release of baclofen will be remotely triggered upon near-infrared light irradiation. In this project, as alternative to the incorporation of carbon nanomaterials into the hydrogels (ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2019, 11, 13147), the use of liquid metals as photothermal agents and polymerization initiators will be explored. Gallium-based liquid metals are attractive materials with potential applications in various fields, from materials science and engineering to medicine. These new classes of hydrogels could find applications as implantable drug delivery devices in the development of new treatment for spasticity to complement or replace current treatments. They will achieve controlled baclofen delivery with lower drug concentrations, and as a result, minimized side-effects, while being less invasive and painful for patients.

Network activities and expected results

This project will allow the launching and development of a collaboration between both teams at the critical moment of their initiation. The incorporation of liquid metal nanoparticles in hydrogels has not been investigated yet for controlled drug release. Ultimately, in vivo experiments will be performed to assess the therapeutic efficiency of the most efficient hydrogel which has the capacity to avoid burst release of baclofen and allow prolonged delivery. For this purpose, the hydrogels will be implanted subcutaneously in a mouse model of spasticity, in collaboration with the group of Luc Dupuis (INSERM UMR1118, University of Strasbourg).


Institutions and laboratories involved


UPR3572 Immunology, Immunopathology et and Therapeutic Chemistry – I2CT (CNRS, Strasbourg)


Centre for Advanced Solid and Liquid based Electronics and Optics (UNSW, School of Chemical Engineering Kensington, Sydney)

Hydrogels containing liquid metal nanoparticles and baclofen for subcutaneous implantation in mice.