A New Look at Lipid-Membrane Structure in Relation to Drug Research

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Lipid-bilayer membranes are key objects in drug research in relation to (i) interaction of drugs with membrane-bound receptors, (ii) drug targeting, penetration, and permeation of cell membranes, and (iii) use of liposomes in micro-encapsulation technologies for drug delivery. Rational design of new drugs and drug-delivery systems therefore requires insight into the physical properties of lipid-bilayer membranes. This mini-review provides a perspective on the current view of lipid-bilayer structure and dynamics based on information obtained from a variety of recent experimental and theoretical studies. Special attention is paid to trans-bilayer structure, lateral molecular organization of the lipid bilayer, lipid-mediated protein assembly, and lipid-bilayer permeability. It is argued that lipids play a major role in lipid membrane-organization and functionality.

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