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Journal of Drug Delivery
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 254095, 12 pages
Research Article

High-Resolution Imaging of Dendrimers Used in Drug Delivery via Scanning Probe Microscopy

1Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UCD Cancer Center, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA
3Division of Hematology and Oncology, Internal Medicine, UCD Cancer Center, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA

Received 18 December 2010; Revised 7 March 2011; Accepted 30 March 2011

Academic Editor: Guru V. Betageri

Copyright © 2011 Lifang Shi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dendrimers and telodendrimer micelles represent two new classes of vehicles for drug delivery that have attracted much attention recently. Their structural characterization at the molecular and submolecular level remains a challenge due to the difficulties in reaching high resolution when imaging small particles in their native media. This investigation offers a new approach towards this challenge, using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). By using new sample preparation protocols, this work demonstrates that (a) intramolecular features such as drug molecules and dendrimer termini can be resolved; and (b) telodendrimer micelles can be immobilized on the surface without compromising structural integrity, and as such, high resolution AFM imaging may be performed to attain 3D information. This high-resolution structural information should enhance our knowledge of the nanocarrier structure and nanocarrier-drug interaction and, therefore, facilitate design and optimization of the efficiency in drug delivery.