Introduction: Natural pharmaceutical excipients have been applied extensively in the past decades owing to their safety and biocompatibility. Zein, a natural protein of plant origin offers great benefit over other synthetic polymers used in controlled drug and biomedical delivery systems. It was used in a variety of medical fields including pharmaceutical and biomedical drug targeting, vaccine, tissue engineering, and gene delivery. Being biodegradable and biocompatible, the current review focuses on the history and the medical application of zein as an attractive still promising biopolymer.
Areas covered: The current review gives a broadscope on zein as a still promising protein excipient in different fields. Zein- based drug and biomedical delivery systems are discussed with special focus on current and potential application in controlled drug delivery systems, and tissue engineering.
Expert opinion: Zein as a protein of natural origin can still be considered a promising polymer in the field of drug delivery systems as well as in tissue engineering. Although different researchers spotted light on zein application in different industrial fields extensively, the feasibility of its use in the field of drug delivery replenished by investigators recent years but not yet been fully approached.