As allergy season intensifies, many people are cursing pollen - the powdery substance released by plants for reproduction.
In ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, researchers report a new method for cleaning out the insides of pollen grains so that the non-allergenic shells can be used to carry medicines or vaccines into the human body.
Pollen grains have a tough outer shell that protects the male genetic material from environmental stress.
Previously, scientists have explored this sturdy yet biodegradable material for various applications, ranging from drug and vaccine delivery to masking the taste of fish oil.
Researchers have even developed a method for cleaning out a particular type of pollen spore, lycopodium, to remove allergens and provide a hollow space that can be filled with the desired material.
So Harvinder Singh Gill and colleagues at Texas Tech University wanted to develop a simple cleaning method that would work for many types of pollen.