Hydrophobic Shielding for Enhanced Nanoparticle Stability

Life Sciences : Drug Delivery

Available for licensing


  • Konstantin Sokolov, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Timothy Larson , Biomedical Engineering
  • Andrew Ellington, Ph.D. , Molecular Biosciences

Background/unmet need

Gold nanoparticle (GNP) research has exploded in the past several years due to the great promise GNPs hold for cancer treatment and molecular imaging. A large subset of this research has focused on functionalization of GNPs by attaching them to biological molecules or drugs. A major roadblock in the progress of GNP therapy is the instability of GNP conjugates in the body. GNPs can be PEGylated to improve stability of these conjugates; however, the linkage between PEG and the GNP can be easily disrupted, leading to opsonization and clearance of the particle by the immune system.  

Invention Description

UT Austin inventors have engineered a hydrophobic shielding layer between the GNP and PEG, which prevents disruption of the linkage and greatly improves stability of the particle in the body.  


    Improved functionality for diagnostics or therapeutics 


    A hydrophobic shielding layer to prevent cysteine mediated disruption of the GNP-PEG linkage 

Market potential/applications

This technology can be used in a variety of applications ranging from in vitro assays to in vivo diagnostics and therapeutics. PEGylated gold nanoparticles are currently in clinical trials as a novel cancer therapeutic, and this invention can greatly improve the efficacy of the treatment.  

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype