Pathfinder Nanosponges for Drug Targeting by Factorial Design:

A Glance Review


Hindustan Abdul Ahad*, Haranath Chintaginjala, Syed Rahamathulla,

Aswarthanarayana Rupasree, Anegondithimmappa Sajan Kumar, Barji Prasanna Pallavi

Department of Industrial Pharmacy, Raghavendra Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research

(RIPER)- Autonomous, KR Palli Cross, Cheyyedu-515721, Ananthapuramu, Andhra Pradesh, India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



For a long time, drug delivery systems (DDS) have been targeted to get expected results. With nanotechnology-based DDS, a wide assortment of flawless challenges can be tackled at present. Known as a nanosponge, a nanosponge is a modern division of material consisting of tiny particles that transmit only a few nanometers. The nano-formulations are highly effective for the delivery of low-solubility drugs. Many drugs with narrow therapeutic windows can benefit from improving water solubility. It has even been claimed they can be utilized to target and control delivery. In addition, huge amounts of money have been spent on developing new formulations of the DDS in recent times. Learn how nanosponges are prepared, its advantages, and its disadvantages. Resources were consulted to comprehend recent enhancements and patents in the domain. The ideal DDS has been developed by combining many different formulations; nano sponges are one of them. Analysts have examined them and found that they produce positive results and can improve the stability of poorly water-soluble drugs. The drug will be released at the precise target site when it reaches the body and sticks to the surface of the target site. As medication maximum action declines, it is more difficult to formulate impotent drugs. Considering this, nanosponges are organized and examined to determine whether they are problematic. Nanosponges in drug delivery can be characterized by their characteristics, preparation, factors, and applications. The article was written based on research articles about nanosponges. Data on nanosponges drug delivery systems from the past decade was collected using a factorial design. Study authors report that factor design plays an imperative role in optimizing drug dosage forms. Researchers will save time by reviewing the literature on nanosponges via factorial designs instead of searching for it.


KEYWORDS: Targeted, Nanosponges, Drug Delivery, Polymers, Design.





The nanosponges (NS) resemble viruses with a naturally degradable scaffold. It forms a spherical shape whose cavities (caries) can enclose the drug. Polyesters are biodegradable, meaning they can release drugs when they break down in the body. Delivering drugs directly to the lungs, liver, and spleen is possible with nanosponges. Also, they can be used for transporting biocatalysts, proteins, enzymes, and antibodies. By targeting drugs to specific sites, preventing degradation of those drugs and proteins, and prolonging their release, it can prevent drug interactions. Nanosponges, in combination with cyclodextrin, offer more drug loading than other nanocarriers when used in topical formulations1.


Nanosponges enclose drug molecules inside nanoparticles. These are 3 types of nanoparticles viz., encapsulating, conjugating, and complex. A nanosponge or nanocapsule acts as a carrier for encapsulated nanoparticles. The biocompatibility and adaptability of nanosponges have significant benefits for pharmaceutical applications. Providing protection against premature degradation for drugs encapsulated in nanosponge cavities, their stability is improved. Drug molecules are contained in the cavities (caries) in alginate nanoparticles, unlike sponges. Secondly, there are nanoparticles conjugated with drugs via covalent bonds. Nanoparticles of the third type are attracted by electrostatic charges2.


One can administer them orally, parenterally, topically, or inhalationally. They are more stable than other nanoparticles. They can transport an extensive diversity of substances due to the nanometric cavities (caries) in their three-dimensional arrangement and the tunable polarity of their surfaces. In addition, nanoparticles have an advantage over other nanoparticles because they can be easily rejuvenated by methods such as washing with biocompatible solvents, denudation with moderately inert hot gases, or altering ionic strength. Both crystallinity and paracrystalline are possible. Crystallization is the primary process leading to nanosponges. A paracrystalline nanosponge's ability to store drugs varies. The amount of crosslinker in the polymer can be varied to manufacture nanosponges of a specific size, which release drugs over time. Cyclodextrins with polymeric branches have been revealed to be beneficial in pharmaceutical applications3.


Advantages of Nanosponges:

Below is a list of nanosponges' BENEFITS and pitfalls4.

·      In addition to hydrophobic molecules within the hydrophobic cavities, nanosponges can also carry hydrophilic molecules within the gap amid the hydrophobic molecules. Hydrophobic drugs can be loaded into the nanosponge structure to consequently increase their solubility.

·      Nanosponges can be used to deliver drugs in a controlled manner.

·      It is easily scaled up for economic production and is biodegradable by nature.

·      A transport fluid composed of sodium hydroxide and water is used for transportation. They can be used to produce undesirable tastes.

·      Drugs are protected from degradation.

·      Aside from the fact that it's non-irritating, it's non-toxic.

·      In this case, the side effects are less severe.


Disadvantages of Nanosponges:

·      Small molecules are the strength of nanosponges.

·      Only consider storing capacities.

·      Retarded release may occur.

·      Both crystalline and paracrystalline nanosponges are possible.


Preparation of Nanosponges:

Nanosponges, nanostructured materials, can be organized by crosslinking polyester with crosslinking agents. There are several ways to prepare nanosponges5.


Melt Method

Solvent diffusion method

Emulsion solvent diffusion method

Quasi-emulsion solvent diffusion

Solvent method

Ultrasound Assisted Method

Fig. 1: Various methods of preparing nanosponges


Advantages of Factorial Design in Nanosponges:

With a factorial design, a researcher can control multiple independent variables at the same time. We can analyze the effects of independent variables individually and together in this design. Factorial design is more effective than single-factor design. In factorial design, we can determine the independent or main effect of independent variables and the collective effect of two or more independent variables. Factorial experiments provide more extensive results and can be generalized more widely since several independent variables are manipulated at the same time6.


Table 1: Past work done on nano sponges using factorial design



Independent Variable

Dependant Variable

Terbinafine HCl7

32 Full Factorial Design (FFD)

EC (X1) and the stirring rate (X2)

Particle size (PS) (Y1) and Entrapment efficiency (EE) (Y2)

Curcumin and caffeine8

32 FFD

Carbopol-934 (X1) and β-CD (X2)

Viscosity (Y1) and % drug release (DR) (Y2)


23 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2) and Stirring speed (X3)

Drug loading (Y1), PS (Y2), and %DR (Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

EE (Y1) and DR (Y2)

Paracetamol, Aceclofenac, Caffeine11

33 BBD

Polymer concentration (X1), Crosslinker (X2), and reaction time (X3)

PS (Y1) and EE (Y2)

Risedronate sodium12

32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

PS (Y1) and EE (Y2)


23 FD

PVA (X1), Eudragit (X2) and Stirring speed (X3)

EE, % yield (PY) (Y2), PS(Y3), and DR(Y4)


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

EE (Y1), DC(Y2), and PY(Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2), HPMC (X3), and Carbopol 934 (X4)

PS(Y1), polydispersity index (PDI), zeta potential (ZP), and EE


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

EE(Y1), PS(Y2), and DR(Y3)

Tizanidine HCl17

32 FFD

β-CD (X1) and carbopol 934 (X2)

PS(Y1), PY (Y2), EE (Y3), and ZP (Y4)

5-Fluoro uracil18

32 FFD

EC(X1), PVA (X2) and Poloxamer- 407 (X3)

DC(Y1), EE (Y2), and ZP (Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

DC(Y1), PS (Y2), PDI (Y3), EE (Y4), and DR (Y5)


32 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2), and β-CD (X3)

DC (Y1), PY (Y2), and EE (Y3)

Naproxen and Ibuprofen21

32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

PY (Y1), EE (Y2), DC (Y3), PS (Y4), PDI (Y5), and ZP (Y6)


32 FFD

β-CD (X1), PVA (X2)

EE (Y1) and DR (Y2)



β-CD (X1),

DC (Y1), DS (Y2), and EE (Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

EE (Y1)


32 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2), and β-CD (X3)

PY (Y1), DR (Y2), and EE (Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2), and β-CD (X3)

DC (Y1), EE (Y2), PS (Y3), and DR (Y4)

Miconazole nitrate27

32 FFD

Sodium CMC (X1), Carbopol 934 (X2), HPMC (X3), MC (X4)

Mucoadhesive time (MT) (Y1)


32 FFD

Pluronic F-127 (X1) and Pluronic F-68 (X2)

Gelation temperature (Y1), gelation time (Y2) and DR(Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1), PVA (X2) and the stirring rate (X3)

PS (Y1) and DR (Y2)


24 FD

Bovine serum albumin (X1) and stirring speed (X2)

EE (Y1), PS (Y2), and DR (Y3)


32 FFD

EC (X1) and PVA (X2)

EE (Y1)


32 FFD

Pluronic F-68 (X1), Poly methyl methacrylate (X2), EC (X3), PVA (X4) Carbopol 971P (X5)

EE (Y1) and DR (Y2)




The study concludes that water solubility is important for drugs with a narrow therapeutic window, and it is required to get targeted/controlled delivery. To resolute this Nanosponges were evolved in addition to other novel drug delivery systems. The evidence for the relevance of nanosponges has been compiled from published research papers. Data from the past decade about nanosponge’s drug delivery systems was analyzed using a factorial design. Researchers from the study found that the factor design technique is important for optimizing the dosage form for drug delivery. Since researchers will not have to search for literature on nanosponges, reviewing literature by factorial design will save time.



The authors declare no conflict of interest.



The authors are thankful to RERDS-CPR of RIPER for providing the facilities for doing this work.



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Received on 19.08.2021       Modified on 07.09.2021

Accepted on 22.09.2021     ©A&V Publications All Right Reserved

Res. J. Pharma. Dosage Forms and Tech.2021; 13(4):341-344.

DOI: 10.52711/0975-4377.2021.00055