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Useful Facts And Information About Liposomes

By Andrea Davidson

Liposomes are naturally occurring objects which appear in our bodies, however they can be manufactured. They have many uses in medicine, and have been cited as an important breakthrough in the treatment of many diseases such as HIV and cancer. This is because they have the ability to enter our cells and release drugs.

Naturally occurring in our bodies, a liposome could be seen as a bubble structure, which contains a solution with many substances dissolved into water. Their membranes are made out of dead or damaged cells, meaning their membranes are made of the same substance. This is a substance named the phospholipid, which consists of fats and a group of phosphate. Their membranes are often waterproof, stopping their contents from leaking out.

The naming of this structure derives from two Greek words. One is ‘lipo’ meaning fat or fat tissue. The other is ‘soma’, which has the meaning of ‘body’. This is because a liposome is made primarily from fats.

The discovery of these fatty vesicles was by Dr Alec D Bangham, who was a haematologist. He made the discovery in 1961 in Babraham Institute. Bangham and his colleague discovered these structures whilst testing a new electron microscope in the institute. They added an opaque liquid to some phospholipids to allow them to become visible. The pictures they took with the microscope showed these structures, and Bangham wrote a paper stating his findings.

A liposome has an interesting quality which has become of great use to us. This quality is its ability to fuse with the membranes of our body cells, therefore being able to eject the contents of its membrane into a cell.

Because of this, many scientists saw the potential of this new discovery in medicine. This is because up until then, many drugs were unable to pass through the membrane of a body cell, and so could not treat a diseased cell. On the other hand, if a drug was manufactured so it was trapped inside these vesicles, they would be injected into the cell as the vesicles fused with the diseased cell membrane.

Their ability to treat cancer has been well documented. The key to this is the property of a cancer cell. Whilst the walls of most blood vessels in human tissue are very tightly packed, making it difficult for anything to get in or out, the walls of a tumour are much less strong. This means they are in essence ‘leaky’, meaning that a small liposome can enter a tumour cell from the blood, and therefore can deliver their contents. Their contents may be cancer treatment drugs such as forms of chemotherapy.

Because of the increasing demand for drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, the artificial manufacture of these structures is becoming more and more important. However, it can sometimes be time consuming and costly. This is because the size of the vesicle must be considered, as it might need to enter areas which only smaller molecules can reach. In addition, scientists must also think about whether the chemicals inside the drug can be inserted into the membrane in the first place.

It cannot be denied that since their discovery in 1961, liposomes have become more and more linked with medical research. Due to the recent research into their uses involving cancer and HIV treatment, it could be said that further research into these structures is becoming increasingly important, as it may not be the last we have heard of them.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Davidson, Andrea "Useful Facts And Information About Liposomes." Useful Facts And Information About Liposomes. 25 Apr. 2014. 23 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Davidson, A (2014, April 25). Useful Facts And Information About Liposomes. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Davidson, Andrea "Useful Facts And Information About Liposomes"

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