Nanotechnology powers rapid drug delivery by nanoparticles

What kind of capabilities separate today’s nanoparticle-based drug delivery vehicles from the computer-controlled nanomedical robots anticipated after the development of molecular manufacturing makes possible complex atomically precise components? One such capability, the coupling of nanoparticle drug delivery vehicles and nano-sized motors for propulsion, is described by Michael Berger at Nanowerk— Another nanotechnology step towards ‘Fantastic Voyage’:

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Several nanoparticle drugs are now in clinical trials, and many more are being developed in research labs. These particles hold great potential to improve the performance of existing cancer drugs. By functionalizing the nanoparticle surface with tumor-specific targeting ligands (specific proteins found in large quantities on tumor cells), scientists can actively target nanoparticles and their payload to desired tumor targets ….

However, off-targeting remains a key challenge of nanotechnology researchers working on nanoparticle drug delivery — the majority of intravenously administered therapeutic nanoparticles are also reaching normal tissues, resulting in considerable adverse side effects. Another challenge of nanoparticle drug delivery includes the limited penetration depth of particles into the tumors.

While extensive efforts have been devoted for designing therapeutic nanoparticles, a new study by researchers in the U.S. — echoing the journey through the human body in Fantastic Voyage — represents the first example of coupling such drug nanocarriers with self-propelled nanoshuttles.

“The ability of synthetic nanomotors to carry ‘cargo’ was demonstrated recently by Sen and Wang groups but not in connection to common drug-loaded particles,” Joseph Wang tells Nanowerk. “In our new study, we demonstrated that catalytic nanoshuttles can readily pickup common biocompatible and biodegradable drug-loaded Poly D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) particles and liposomes and transport them over predefined routes towards predetermined destination.”

Wang, who runs the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at the Department of NanoEngineering at UC San Diego, and his group have worked with Liangfang Zhang’ team from the Department of Nanoengineering and Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego to demonstrate an initial proof-of-concept of nanoshuttle drug-delivery transport. While Wang’s team has expertise in nanomotors …, Zhang’s group specializes in directed drug delivery.

“We are all motivated towards the realizing the vision of the 1966 movie ‘Fantastic Voyage’ vision and by the potential to enhance medical treatment” Wang tells Nanowerk.…

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