pH-Responsive Nanovalves for On-Demand Release of Guest Molecules

Tech ID: 21559 / UC Case 2008-374-0


UCLA inventors have developed novel nanovalves that aid in the release of guest molecules, such as anticancer drugs, in response to pH levels.


Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain caused by the dysfunction of one or more nerves. This type of pain represents a challenge in medicine because of its frequency, severity, and limited number of effective treatment options. In the USA and European countries, the prevalence of neuropathic pain is between 1.5 and 7.7% of the population. Most patients respond poorly to standard pain therapies involving pain killers. One treatment that has been used to reduce neuropathic pain is antidepressants. Antidepressants are useful, however the mechanisms are unknown and they have unwanted side effects. Therefore, there is a need to uncover how antidepressants work in neuropathic pain, which would then open up new targets to design better analgesics.


Researchers at UCLA have invented a novel pH-responsive nanovalve system that employs biocampatible components, relies on ion-dipole interactions, and operates in aqueous media. This was achieved by filling a tiny, porous silica sphere with a drug and then plugging the pores with the valves. Applying this system, researchers can use pH changes to control a drug's release. Current nanovalves can open in locations where low pH conditions occur, such as in the lysosome of a cell, or in the acidic environment of the stomach.


  • On-demand release of anticancer drug in cancer therapy
  • On-demand release of anti-microbial drugs in dental treatment
  • On-demand release of anti-viral drugs in agriculture


  • Operates in aqueous media (physiological condition)
  • Responds to low pH
  • Consists of pseudorotaxane molecules

State Of Development

The invention has been validated in aqueous solutions.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20100310465 12/09/2010 2008-374

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  • Zink, Jeffrey I.

Other Information


Nanovalve, pH-Responsive, Drug delivery

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