Scientists with the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) announce the development of a new class of drug-carrying nanoparticles, that are more capable of reaching their intended target than any other similar constructs today.
The work was prompted by the fact that numerous types of nanoparticles and other drug-delivery systems are still very inefficient at doing what they are supposed to. While the basic principles behind their operations are correct, their implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
For instance, one of the most important roles of nanoparticles is to encapsulate drugs commonly used in chemotherapy to treat cancer. The structures are then injected into the bloodstream, and need to make their way to the tumor site, selectively attach to diseased cells and kill them.
Surrounding, healthy tissue needs to remain untouched. But most of these particles are lost before they reach they tumors. They are processed by the liver and spleen, and attacked by the immune system, while at the same time degrading naturally in the bloodstream.
In the new research, the UCLA team developed mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNP) that are extremely efficient at reaching their intended target. Details of the new work are published in the latest issue of the esteemed scientific journal ACS Nano.
This drug-delivery platform was engineered in such a way that experts can easily customize it later on, tailoring its actions to suit the demands of each individual class of drug being carried. This was also evidenced in a study the team conducted on unsuspecting lab mice.
In this experiment, the MSNP platforms were loaded with doxorubicin, a drug commonly used to address cancer. An estimated 10 to 12 percent of the particles reached the tumor site, which is an impressive percentage.
“The amount of doxorubicin being delivered to the tumor site was considerably higher than what could be achieved by the free drug, in addition to allowing efficient delivery into the cancer cells at the tumor site,” explains team leader Dr. Andre Nel.
He is a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), and a professor of medicine, pediatrics and public health at the university. The expert also holds an appointment as the chief of the Nanomedicine Division at the UCLA Department of Medicine.
“This is an important demonstration of how the optimal design of the MSNP platform can achieve better drug delivery in vivo,” he explains.
“This delivery platform allows effective and protective packaging of hydrophobic and charged anticancer drugs for controlled and on-demand delivery,” the expert goes on to say.
“Not only are these design features superior to induce tumor shrinkage and apoptosis compared to the free drug, but they also dramatically improve the safety profile of systemic doxorubicin delivery,” Nel adds.