Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Coated Nanoparticles Solve Sticky Drug-delivery Problem

Abstract:
The layers of mucus that protect sensitive tissue throughout the body have an undesirable side effect: they can also keep helpful medications away. To overcome this hurdle, researchers have found a way to coat nanoparticles with a chemical that helps them slip through this sticky barrier.

Coated Nanoparticles Solve Sticky Drug-delivery Problem

Baltimore, MD | Posted on January 24th, 2007

The layers of mucus that protect sensitive tissue throughout the body have an undesirable side effect: they can also keep helpful medications away. To overcome this hurdle, Johns Hopkins researchers have found a way to coat nanoparticles with a chemical that helps them slip through this sticky barrier.

During experiments with these coated particles, the researchers also discovered that mucus layers have much larger pores than previously thought, providing a doorway that should allow larger and longer-acting doses of medicine to reach the protected tissue.

The team's findings were reported this week in the Early Online Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The discoveries are important because mucus layers, which trap and help remove pathogens and other foreign materials, can block the localized delivery of drugs to many parts of the body, including the lungs, eyes, digestive tract and female reproductive system. Because of these barriers, doctors often must prescribe pills or injections that send drugs through the entire body, an approach that can lead to unwanted side effects or doses that are too weak to provide effective treatment.

"Mucus barriers evolved to serve a helpful purpose: to keep things out," said Justin Hanes, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering who supervised the research. "But if you want to deliver medicine in a microscopic particle, they can also keep the drugs from getting through. We've found a way to keep helpful nanoparticles from sticking to mucus, and we learned that the openings in the mucus ‘mesh' are much larger than most people expected. These findings set the stage for a new generation of nanomedicines that can be delivered directly to the affected areas."

To get its particles past the mucus, Hanes' team studied an unlikely model: viruses. Earlier research led by Richard Cone, a professor in the Department of Biophysics at Johns Hopkins, had established that some viruses are able to make their way through the human mucus barrier. Hanes and his colleagues decided to look for a chemical coating that might mimic the characteristics of a virus.

"We found that the viruses that got through had surfaces that were attracted to water, and they had a net neutral electrical charge," said Samuel K. Lai, a Johns Hopkins chemical and biomolecular engineering doctoral student from Canada and Hong Kong who was lead author of the journal article. "We thought that if we could coat a drug-delivery nanoparticle with a chemical that had these characteristics, it might not get stuck in the mucus barrier."

To make their nanoparticles behave like viruses, the researchers coated them with polyethylene glycol, PEG, a non-toxic material commonly used in pharmaceuticals. PEG dissolves in water and is excreted harmlessly by the kidneys.

The researchers also considered the size of their nanoparticles. Previous studies indicated that even if nanoparticles did not stick to the mucus, they might have to be smaller than 55 nanometers wide to pass through the tiny openings in the human mucus mesh. (A human hair is roughly 80,000 nanometers wide.) Using high-resolution video microscopy and computer software, the researchers discovered that their PEG-coated 200-nanometer particles could slip through a barrier of human mucus.

They then conducted further tests to see how large their microscopic drug carriers could be before they got trapped in the mesh. Larger nanoparticles are more desirable because they can release greater amounts of medicine over a longer period of time. "We wanted to make the particles as large as possible," said Hanes, who also serves as director of therapeutics for the Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins. "The shocking thing was how fast the particles that were 500 nanometers wide moved through the mucus mesh. The work suggests that the openings in the mucus barrier are much larger than originally expected by most. And we were also surprised to find that the larger nanoparticles (200 and 500 nanometers wide) actually moved through the mucus layer more quickly than the smaller ones (100 nanometers wide)."

This has important implications, Hanes said, because a 500-nanometer particle can be used to deliver medicine to a targeted area, released over periods of days to weeks. Larger particles also allow a wider array of drug molecules to be efficiently encapsulated. He and his colleagues believe this system has great potential in the delivery of chemotherapy, antibiotics, nucleic acids and other treatment directly to the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and cervicovaginal tract.

Through Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer, the team has applied for patents covering this process.

In addition to Lai, Hanes and Cone, co-authors of the PNAS paper included D. Elizabeth O'Hanlon and Suzanne Harrold, doctoral students in the Johns Hopkins Department of Biophysics in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences; Stan T. Man, a former visiting research scientist in the Johns Hopkins Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering; and Ying-Ying Wang, who contributed to the research as a Johns Hopkins undergraduate and who is now a graduate student in the university's Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Lai's participation was partially supported by a scholarship from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Digital photos of the researchers available; contact Phil Sneiderman.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
OFFICE OF NEWS AND INFORMATION
Suite 540, 901 S. Bond St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21231

MEDIA CONTACT: Phil Sneiderman
(443) 287-9960

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Related News Press

Nanomedicine

Nominations Invited for $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience: Major international prize recognizes a visionary nanotechnology researcher February 20th, 2017

Good vibrations help reveal molecular details: Rice University scientists combine disciplines to pinpoint small structures in unlabeled molecules February 15th, 2017

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

Cedars-Sinai, UCLA Scientists Use New ‘Blood Biopsies’ With Experimental Device to Speed Cancer Diagnosis and Predict Disease Spread: Leading-Edge Research Is Part of National Cancer Moonshot Initiative February 13th, 2017

Discoveries

Molecular phenomenon discovered by advanced NMR facility: Cutting edge technology has shown a molecule self-assembling into different forms when passing between solution state to solid state, and back again - a curious phenomenon in science - says research by the University of Wa February 22nd, 2017

Tiny nanoclusters could solve big problems for lithium-ion batteries February 21st, 2017

Oxford Instruments announces Dr Brad Ramshaw of Cornell University, as winner of the 2017 Lee Osheroff Richardson Science Prize February 20th, 2017

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

Announcements

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of 45nm RF SOI to Advance 5G Mobile Communications: Optimized RF features deliver high-performance solutions for mmWave beam forming applications in 5G smartphones and base stations February 22nd, 2017

EmTech Asia breaks new barriers with potential applications of space exploration with NASA and MIT February 22nd, 2017

JPK selects compact tensile stage from Deben for their NanoWizard® AFM platform to broaden capabilities for materials characterisation February 22nd, 2017

Molecular phenomenon discovered by advanced NMR facility: Cutting edge technology has shown a molecule self-assembling into different forms when passing between solution state to solid state, and back again - a curious phenomenon in science - says research by the University of Wa February 22nd, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project