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Introduction—Physiological processes at the molecular level take place at precise spatiotemporal scales, which vary from tissue to tissue and from one patient to another, implying the need for the carriers that enable tunable release of therapeutics.

Areas Covered—Classification of all drug release to intrinsic and extrinsic is proposed, followed by the etymological clarification of the term “tunable” and its distinction from the term “tailorable”. Tunability is defined as analogous to tuning a guitar string or a radio receiver to the right frequency using a single knob. It implies changing a structural parameter along a continuous quantitative scale and correlating it numerically with the release kinetics. Examples of tunable, tailorable and environmentally responsive carriers are given, along with the parameters used to achieve these levels of control.

Expert Opinion—Interdependence of multiple variables defining the carrier microstructure obstructs the attempts to elucidate parameters that allow for the independent tuning of release kinetics. Learning from the tunability of nanostructured materials and superstructured metamaterials can be a fruitful source of inspiration in the quest for the new generation of tunable release carriers. The greater intersection of traditional materials sciences and pharmacokinetic perspectives could foster the development of more sophisticated mechanisms for tunable release.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery, volume 13, issue 12, in 2016. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1080/17425247.2016.1200558


Taylor & Francis



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