Novel Nanosystems Could Replace Intravenous Drugs

New targeted drug delivery system has the ability to cross the intestinal and blood-brain barriers.

Pharmacy researchers have begun searching for a new alternative to treatments that can only be administered through injections, which is typically more difficult than taking a pill.

The researchers believe that nanosystems, particles that interact with cells, can potentially be a novel way to deliver these drugs, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Current targeted drug delivery methods use ligands that have to compete with the ligands in the human body, but the new method binds nanoparticles non-competitively.

To elicit this effect, researchers used gambogic acid for active transport, since it is known to kill cancer cells.

“Our strategy is non-competitive active transport,” said lead researcher Ravikumar Majeti, PhD. “These nanosystems have the ability to cross the intestinal barrier to reach other parts of the body and stay in circulation for a long time.”

Crossing the intestinal barrier with adequate quantities is an issue for oral medications, while some medications, such as insulin, are injected, according to the study.

“The way we put these things together is completely novel,” Dr Kumar said. “This approach enables the development of carrier systems that have no equivalent in the world of competitive ligands.”

This delivery system also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, and can be useful for treatment for brain tumors, the researchers wrote.

“We can fine-tune the nanosystems to match the disease in question,” said researcher Ganugula Raghu, PhD. “It is also relatively easy to adjust the timing of the drug release, either fast or slow, depending on the needs of the patient. For example, such systems can be designed to benefit diabetic patients by facilitating hepatic (liver) and peripheral insulin in a single dose.”

The concentration of the medication and ligand density on the particle can be changed through modifying the ratios of functional to non-functioning polymers, according to the study.

“We really think these small particles will open up new avenues in receptor-mediated oral delivery of poorly soluble and permeable compounds that constitute about 40% of the new chemical entities requiring specialized delivery systems,” concluded researcher Meenakshi Arora, PhD.