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Home > Press > Nanosponge decoy fights superbug infections: A good disguise enables the nanosponge to soak up toxins from drug-resistant infections or poisons

Cancers are notorious for secreting chemicals that confuse the immune system and thwart biological defenses. Researchers at Yale University have developed a novel system to simultaneously deliver a sustained dose of both an immune-system booster and a chemical to counter the cancer's secretions, resulting in a powerful therapy that, in mice, delayed tumor growth, sent tumors into remission and dramatically increased survival rates. The new immunotherapy incorporates well-studied drugs, but delivers them using nanolipogels (NLGs), a new drug transport technology the researchers designed. 
Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
Cancers are notorious for secreting chemicals that confuse the immune system and thwart biological defenses. Researchers at Yale University have developed a novel system to simultaneously deliver a sustained dose of both an immune-system booster and a chemical to counter the cancer's secretions, resulting in a powerful therapy that, in mice, delayed tumor growth, sent tumors into remission and dramatically increased survival rates. The new immunotherapy incorporates well-studied drugs, but delivers them using nanolipogels (NLGs), a new drug transport technology the researchers designed.

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Abstract:
Our first instinct with infection in the body is often to find it and get rid of it! But, engineer Liangfang Zhang had another idea. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Zhang and his team at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have created a nanosponge to combat drug-resistant infections, such as those caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Nanosponge decoy fights superbug infections: A good disguise enables the nanosponge to soak up toxins from drug-resistant infections or poisons

Arlington, VA | Posted on April 28th, 2014

The nanosponge, made from biocompatible, biodegradable polymer nanoparticles, is camouflaged with a red blood cell membrane. It circulates in the bloodstream, absorbing the toxins produced by infection. One red blood cell membrane can be used as a cloak for more than 3,000 of these stealthy nanosponges. Once the nanosponges are fully loaded with toxins, they are safely disposed of by the liver. They are designed to work with any type of infection or poison that attacks the cellular membrane.

Zhang is working closely with doctors and students at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center on this "nano" approach to tackling infections. He has been testing his approach on mice, with nearly a 100 percent success rate against staph infections. Human clinical trials are the next step!

The research in this episode was funded by NSF award #1216461, EAGER: Red Blood Cell Membrane Camouflaged Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery.

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Contacts:
Miles O'Brien
Science Nation Correspondent


Marsha Walton
Science Nation Producer

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