With targeted drug and gene therapies, finding the target cells is only half the battle. Once these agents reach a cell’s surface, they still have to get inside and do their job.
University of Illinois researchers say they now know how to track and map drug and gene delivery vehicles to evaluate which are most effective at infiltrating cells and getting to their targets, insight that could guide development of new pharmaceutical agents. The researchers described their tracking system and their findings on the most effective delivery vehicles in the journal Nature Communications (“Single quantum dot tracking reveals the impact of nanoparticle surface on intracellular state”).
Gene therapies have shown promise in cell culture and animal studies but have been less effective in clinical trials, said study leader Andrew Smith, a professor of bioengineering at the U. of I. This class of pharmaceuticals, called biologics, are different from traditional drugs in that they need to be attached to specialized delivery agents, such as nanoparticles or proteins, to reach their intended cellular targets.
Their lack of efficacy stems from their difficulty in reaching targets within cells, and the obstacles hampering them are poorly understood, Smith said.
“We have these really great models that tell us how classical drugs work, but there’s no model that works for these new biologics that have to have some additional mechanism to deliver to cells. This has been a key missing part of pharmaceutical medicine,” Smith said. “If we don’t understand the mechanisms of the problem, we can’t solve it. Now we can pinpoint why that happens and figure out how to overcome the key bottlenecks, which has never been possible.”
Image Credit: Andrew Smith
News This Week
“We’ll have nanobots that… connect our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud. Our thinking will be a…. biological and non-biological hybrid.” Ray Kurzweil, TED 2014 UPDATE - May 21 2019 Since [...]
DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material. The revolution in synthetic biology that’s reshaping industries [...]
These startups have seen investment from NEA, Andreessen Horowitz, and DARPA, among many others. As the digital health sector matures from basic tracking apps into highly regulated medical devices, we are seeing bleeding edge [...]
Quantum technologies utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing. However [...]
Nanoparticles can be used in many ways as catalysts. To be able to tailor them in such a way that they can catalyse certain reactions selectively and efficiently, researchers need to determine the properties [...]
University of Copenhagen researchers have developed a nanocomponent that emits light particles carrying quantum information. Less than one-tenth the width of a human hair, the miniscule component makes it possible to scale up [...]
Once cartilage is damaged, there is little that can be done to repair it. Unlike many other tissues, cartilage doesn’t heal well and consequences of injuries and disease can last a lifetime. Now [...]