Johns Hopkins University researchers have created biodegradable nanosized particles that can easily slip through the body's sticky and viscous mucus secretions to deliver a sustained-release medication cargo.
The researchers say these nanoparticles, which degrade over time into harmless components, could one day carry life-saving drugs to patients suffering from dozens of health conditions, including diseases of the eye, lung, gut or female reproductive tract.
The mucus-penetrating biodegradable nanoparticles were developed by an interdisciplinary team led by Justin Hanes, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins. The team's work was reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Hanes' collaborators included cystic fibrosis expert Pamela Zeitlin, a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of pediatric pulmonary medicine at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
These nanoparticles, Zeitlin said, could be an ideal means of delivering drugs to people with cystic fibrosis, a disease that kills children and adults by altering the mucus barriers in the lung and gut.
"Cystic fibrosis mucus is notoriously thick and sticky and represents a huge barrier to aerosolized drug delivery," she said. "In our study, the nanoparticles were engineered to travel through cystic fibrosis mucus at a much greater velocity than ever before, thereby improving drug delivery. This work is critically important to moving forward with the next generation of small molecule and gene-based therapies."
Beyond their potential applications for cystic fibrosis patients, the nanoparticles also could be used to help treat disorders such as lung and cervical cancer, and inflammation of the sinuses, eyes, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, said Benjamin C. Tang, lead author of the recent journal article and a postdoctoral fell
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Johns Hopkins University