To get past the immune system, scientists have now successfully camouflaged nano-particles, which would otherwise intercept and destroy them as invaders.
The breakthrough has paved the way to a revolutionary drug delivery system, targeting specific cells and cell types including cancers, unthinkable with any other existing method.
Scientists from Methodist Hospital Research Institute (MHRI) cloaked nano-particles in the membranes of white blood cells, described as 'LeukoLike Vectors' or LLVs, to hoodwink the immune system, the journal Nature Nanotechnology reports.
"Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered," said Ennio Tasciotti, professor and head of medicine from MHRI.
"We accomplished this with the lipids and proteins present on the membrane of the very same cells of the immune system."
"We transferred the cell membranes to the surfaces of the particles and the result is that the body now recognizes these particles as its own and does not readily remove them," said Tasciotti.
"Our cloaking strategy prevents the binding of opsonins -- signalling proteins that activate the immune system."
"We compared the absorption of proteins onto the surface of coated and uncoated particles to see how the particles might evade the immune system response," added Tasciotti.