Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles can precisely target infections to stop the spread of bacteria simultaneously and decrease the inflammation it creates. These minute particles are filled with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic agents which are discharged when the particles encounter infection in the body. The findings of the study are published in the journal Advanced Materials.
Researchers in the lab of Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Professor Zhenjia Wang is looking for a new way to fight sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response that can cause organ failure.
‘New way to fight sepsis using nanoparticle technology can accurately target infections to prevent the spread of bacteria.’
"This study not only proves a new drug delivery system but also may shift the current landscape in nanomedicine to a biology-driven design of nanotherapeutics. This has the potential to improve the therapies of many more infectious diseases," Wang said.
In the research, WSU scientists at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences built a new nanoparticle and coated it with the molecules that blood vessels have been found to release in response to infections. This dressing makes the nanoparticle sensitive to the signature acidity of infection sites, and upon arrival at the site of infection the bacterial enzymes present act as a trigger for the drugs to be released.
Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are already used to mitigate the onset of sepsis, but there are issues with the old school use of these therapies. They are metabolized quickly, so their effects don't last long, and a portion of the drug is eliminated from the body without ever encountering the infected tissue it was intended for. They have what is called poor bioavailability, so the rate at which these drugs are absorbed into infected tissues from the injection site is slow. Also, they are toxic, so repeated dosing causes its damage to organs.
"This study will allow chemists and materials engineers to design new drug formulations to treat many bacterial infections, such as TB infection," said Can Yang Zhang, who is the leading author on the paper and a postdoctoral research associate in the Wang lab.
The use of nanoparticle technology in medical practice is growing, but this is the first time a nanocarrier has been built to deliver not one, but two drugs, and delivers these drugs in a manner that waits to deploy until it encounters infectious tissues. This triple punch, for the most part, ducks the issues with blanket administration of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories mentioned previously because it keeps the drugs from being released before they encounter an infection.
Additionally, the nanocarrier targets explicitly infection sites, so less medicine is necessary, and there is limited collateral damage to otherwise healthy tissues.