In the last few weeks, we have seen a few surprise patents and patent applications from large companies like Honda and AMD. The streak of surprises continues this week, with a patent application by Sony Corporation, which includes using graphene for drug delivery.
US Patent Application number 20120289613 quite generally describes several uses of graphene oxide in a solution containing two fluids. One fluid is meant to be water, to which graphene gets attached. The other fluid is generally a solvent, for example one that contains a drug molecule. The method of delivery is left to our imagination, but one could imagine, for instance, injecting such a mixture into the bloodstream of a patient.
The question is how the graphene helps in this case, i.e. why is that better than just injecting the drug molecule in a solvent? Perhaps the idea was to use this solution in some kind of microfluidic system, or to use the pH sensitive drug delivery properties. Most of the patent is about the surprising amphiphilic property of graphene oxide, that is the property that one side of the molecule attaches to water and the other does not. It could very well be that the researchers discovered the amphiphilicity of graphene oxide and quickly thought of some uses to secure a patent. As far as the use of graphene for drug delivery goes, there have been many scientific publications in the field already, which raises questions of priority for this application.
Whatever the intention, it is good to know that Sony is doing research on graphene. We’re looking forward to more from them.