In the future, the success of drug delivery could rely on its ability to integrate with patients’ lives without too much effort. Textiles, which are already a permanent fixture in people’s everyday lives, could be utilized to serve as a tool that seamlessly promotes wellness. Schoeller Textil AG has developed the iLoad® system, based on textile carrier materials that can be individually loaded and regenerated with beneficial and therapeutic substances. The release of medicaments is also possible with the iLoad.
While textiles that feature a “release effect” are already available on the market, they have failed to become truly established due to poor performance. More than seven years of practical research and development have been devoted to the development of stable carrier materials that are easy to load and wash-permanent. This carrier material has been proven to remain stable and permanent in tests at up to 60 °C in over 100 washing cycles. iLoad also passed the cytotoxicity test. All the components of the system are subject to bluesign®, the most stringent textile standard worldwide. In the next step, effective agent variants will be dosed and tested with appropriate partners.
The system consists of an eligible base fabric onto which a special donor layer is applied and anchored, coating every fiber of the fabric. In the subsequent loading process, this donor layer is combined with a specific emulsion with the required active substances (such as a homeopathic remedy). Like a magnet, the negatively charged donor layer attracts the positively charged customized active agent emulsion and stores it like a sponge. The loading process takes just a few minutes and can be accomplished using only the rinse programs in both industrial and domestic washing machines.
Triggered by warmth, vibration, moisture, and perspiration, the constant transdermal unloading process releases the substance in the donor layer onto the skin, where it can develop its full effect. The desorption time, i.e. the length of time for the release of the active agent, can be adapted for specific purposes. The substances stored in the emulsion are tailored to the desired application. In the next wash, any residual substances that may still be present are completely unloaded and the iLoad textile regenerated in this manner can be loaded with a new, user-defined active substance.
A regenerating hybrid model of iLoad features two-dimensional iLoad hybrid tissues that are hydrophilic on one side, storing the desired agent and releasing it towards the skin. On the opposite side, the mutual hydrophobic barrier acts as a substance-free zone. Known examples of this function principle are nicotine or hormone patches. Schoeller is adding this hybrid onto textile surfaces.
The iLoad may someday address issues including sleep disorders, neurodermatitis, and colds. Other foreseeable agents may be for skin care or long-lasting freshness. In addition, patients with decubitus ulcers (bedsores) may find some relief with iLoad. The textiles disperse the active agents continuously into the right area. The delivery of prescription medication in cooperation with medical staff is another potential future application of this technology.