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Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2009 Mar;6(3):305-17. doi: 10.1517/17425240902828312.

Atomic force microscopy: a tool to study the structure, dynamics and stability of liposomal drug delivery systems.

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National Technical University of Athens, School of Applied Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Zografou Campus, Athens, 15780, Greece.


Much work has been done during the past few decades to develop effective drug delivery systems (DDS), many of which are based on nanotechnology science. Liposomes are the most attractive lipid vesicles for drug delivery. The multifunctional properties of liposomes have a key role in modifying the bioavailability profile of a therapeutic agent. Different analytical techniques can be used to describe liposomes, not least applied scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) seems to be one of the most effectively applied SPM techniques. This review article outlines the applications of AFM in evaluating the physical characteristics and stability of liposomal DDSs. Other well-known microscopy techniques used in evaluating liposome physical characteristics are also mentioned, and the contribution of AFM to evaluating liposomal stability is discussed. Among the advantages of AFM in examining the physicochemical properties of liposomal DDSs is its ability to provide morphological and metrology information on liposome properties. AFM thus appears to be a promising tool in technological characterization of liposomal DDSs.

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