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Nanoparticles disguised as red blood cells will deliver cancer-fighting drugs
Date:6/20/2011

a nanoparticle might survive without this special coating.

But in Zhang's study, nanoparticles coated in the membranes of red blood cells circulated in the bodies of lab mice for nearly two days. The study was funded through a grant from the National Institute of Health.

A shift towards personalized medicine

Using the body's own red blood cells marks a significant shift in focus and a major breakthrough in the field of personalized drug delivery research. Trying to mimic the most important properties of a red blood cell in a synthetic coating requires an in-depth biological understanding of how all the proteins and lipids function on the surface of a cell so that you know you are mimicking the right properties. Instead, Zhang's team is just taking the whole surface membrane from an actual red blood cell.

"We approached this problem from an engineering point of view and bypassed all of this fundamental biology," said Zhang. "If the red blood cell has such a feature and we know that it has something to do with the membrane -- although we don't fully understand exactly what is going on at the protein level -- we just take the whole membrane. You put the cloak on the nanoparticle, and the nanoparticle looks like a red blood cell."

Using nanoparticles to deliver drugs also reduces the hours it takes to slowly drip chemotherapy drug solutions through an intravenous line to just a few minutes for a single injection of nanoparticle drugs. This significantly improves the patient's experience and compliance with the therapeutic plan. The breakthrough could lead to more personalized drug delivery wherein a small sample of a patient's own blood could produce enough of the essential membrane to disguise the nanoparticle, reducing the risk of immune response to almost nothing.

Zhang said one of the next steps is to develop an approach for large-scale manufacturing of these biomimetic nanoparticles for clinical use, w
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Contact: Catherine Hockmuth
chockmuth@ucsd.edu
858-822-1359
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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