A major challenge in developing drug-releasing electrospun nanofibers is obtaining long-term drug release over many weeks with no burst release of drug. Here, we present new methods capable of prolonging the diffusive release of small molecule drugs from electrospun poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) nanofibers. The methods focus on removal of retained electrospinning solvent through fiber heating, maintaining fibers in a laboratory setting, or a combination of these methods. These post-fabrication methods altered the release characteristics of a model small molecule drug, 6-aminonicotinamide (6AN), from PLLA fibers. Specifically, untreated fibers released 6AN over 9 days, and fibers that underwent a combined treatment of maintenance in a laboratory setting and heating released 6AN over 44 days. The unique and simple method presented here prolongs diffusive release of a small molecule drug from electrospun fibers and has potential to assist in lengthening small molecule drug release from a variety of polymeric nanomaterials.
Polymer 123 (11): 121-127 (2017).