Investigation of Drug-Nanoparticle Interactions by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry

Student Author(s)

Lydia Rau, Hope CollegeFollow

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Michael Seymour, Hope College
Dr. Jonathon Peterson, Hope College

Document Type


Event Date



Prescription drug usage has increased in recent decades in the United States. In 2009, the most-prescribed drug was the painkiller Vicodin, with 128.2 million prescriptions. Drugs are also used in animal husbandry to increase yields of products. When these prescriptions are ingested, not all the drug is used by the body. The excess is excreted. The levels are low enough that bacteria at wastewater plants are not excited to consume them. Therefore, the drugs leach into groundwater and have deleterious effects even at such low levels. Microbes are inoculated against the effect of antibiotics, and hormones from birth control pills make hermaphroditic fish. Nanoparticles are very small; each of their dimensions is between 1 and 100 nanometers, where a nanometer is 10-9 meter. They have a large surface area to volume ratio. They have both natural and artificial sources and have many uses, like sunscreen paint, and stain-resistant clothing, to name three. It is hypothesized that these have an effect on the movement of pharmaceuticals through groundwater. They might bind to the drug, altering the reactivity of the drug, or they might cause it to be broken. The strength of the binding can be done using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). ITC uses a two-cell system and measures the energy needed to keep the cells at the same temperature. This is related to the reaction occurring in the sample cell between the drug and the nanoparticle and the heat it releases or absorbs.

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