Nanostructured lipid hydrogel in highly diluted conditions composed only by lipids and water

CSIC scientists have developed and patented a hydrogel formed exclusively by lipids dispersed in a large amount of water, without the need of using surfactants or polymers. This fact avoids risk of irritations or adverse responses in case of medical applications. This material is biocompatible and favors the transport of drugs through topical, ocular or mucous routes.

Skin section with a follicle (White arrow), showing permeation of fluorescein (green) which has been carried by the hidrogel. Right picture, tagged epidermis (in blue) with DAPI, a blue marker used to locate the epidermal cells within the skin. Both images pretend to show how fluorescein has permeated well epidermis.Phospholipids and fatty acids are fundamental molecules present in all biological membranes. These molecules are able to organize themselves forming nanostructures with great applicability in different fields. Currently, in the field of cosmetics, dermatology and pharmacy, there is a growing interest in the development of biocompatible hydrogels that mimic biological systems.

In this sense, hydrogels formed by lipids offer numerous advantages. However, most lipid gels are formed by a very high concentration of lipids, greater than 50%. In order to form gels with a lower concentration of lipids and a high amount of water, it is necessary the addition of surfactants or polymers, which can induce irritation and sensitization problems or other adverse reactions.

A research group of the CSIC have developed a new nanostructured lipid gel which contains a high amount of water without the need of adding surfactants or other agents that can damage biological systems. It is formed by vesicles interspersed between lipid sheets. It is exclusively composed of phospholipids and fatty acids (from 3 to 10%) with a very high water content (from 90 to 97%).

Scientists are now looking for companies from the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors interested in collaborating through a patent license.

Vesicles and thin layers

In this new material, part of the water is trapped in vesicles, which, in turn, are interspersed between large lipid sheets. This organization gives rise to a consistent gel of high biocompatibility, able to incorporate therapeutic molecules of different polarity in different compartments and to facilitate an adequate application on the skin and other tissues. All this gives to the hydrogel a great potential in medical applications, especially for development of skin, ocular and mucous products.

Scientists have conducted in vitro tests and confirmed that the hydrogel permeates well through the skin and its follicles, transporting active molecules.

Other advantages of the hydrogel are good stability, which makes it possible to avoid stabilizing additives, and a lower production cost, due to the low concentration of lipids.


Isabel Masip
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer - CSIC
Tel: + 34 – 93 442 65 76
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