From an article at phys.org by Ryan O’hare :
Metallic nanomolecules capable of carrying drugs to exactly where they are needed could one day help to treat patients with a fatal lung condition.
Scientists based at Imperial College London have tested a new type of nanoparticle called metal organic frameworks (MOF) – tiny metal cages less than 100 nanometres across that can be loaded with drug molecules – which they believe could potentially be used to treat patients with a devastating condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
In PAH the blood vessels of the lungs constrict and thicken, increasing blood pressure and causing the right side of the heart to work harder and harder, until it eventually fails. The condition is rare but devastating and can affect people of all ages, including babies, young adults and the elderly. Patients in the late stage of the disease have few treatment options beyond transplant, with a mean survival time of around five years following diagnosis.
While there is no cure for PAH, existing treatments work by opening up these blood vessels. These drugs act on blood vessels throughout the body, however, causing blood pressure to drop and resulting in a number of side effects – which means the dose at which these drugs can be given is limited.
In their latest study, published online in Pulmonary Circulation, the multidisciplinary group at Imperial describes how it has taken the first in a number of steps to develop nanoparticles which could deliver drugs directly to the lungs, showing that the basic structures are not harmful to cells.