Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered nanoparticles that could greatly enhance the healing power of drug treatments for cardiovascular disease and systemic bacterial infections.
These platelet-mimicking nanoparticles are capable of delivering drugs to targeted sites in the body - particularly injured blood vessels, as well as organs infected by harmful bacteria.
Scientists demonstrated that these platelet copycats greatly increased the therapeutic effects of drugs that were administered to diseased rats and mice by delivering the drugs just to the areas where the drugs were needed.
"This work addresses a major challenge in the field of nanomedicine: targeted drug delivery with nanoparticles. Because of their targeting ability, platelet-mimicking nanoparticles can directly provide a much higher dose of medication specifically to diseased areas without saturating the entire body with drugs," said Liangfang Zhang, a nanoengineering professor at UC San Diego and the senior author of the study.
The study is an excellent example of using engineering principles and technology to achieve "precision medicine," said Shu Chien, a professor of bioengineering and medicine, director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego, and a corresponding author on the study.
"While this proof of principle study demonstrates specific delivery of therapeutic agents to treat cardiovascular disease and bacterial infections, it also has broad implications for targeted therapy for other diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders," said Chien.
The research was published in Nature.