Nanotechnology provides two-compartment nanoparticles for drug delivery

A nanotech approach that makes use of artificial protein-like molecules called “single-component block copolypeptides” produces stable double emulsion nanoparticles. Because these nanoparticles can simultaneously deliver water-soluble and water-insoluble drugs, they might offer an advantage in killing cancer cells that develop resistance to one drug. From the University of California – Los Angeles, via AAAS EurekAlert “Scientists produce nanoscale droplets with cancer-fighting implications“:

UCLA scientists have succeeded in making unique nanoscale droplets that are much smaller than a human cell and can potentially be used to deliver pharmaceuticals.

“What we found that was unexpected was within each oil droplet there was also a water droplet — a double emulsion,” said Timothy Deming, professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Bioengineering and a member of both the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA and UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center. “We have a water droplet inside of an oil droplet, in water.”

“The big challenge,” Deming added, “was to make these molecules in the sub-100-nanometer size range with these properties and have them be stable. We have demonstrated we can make these emulsions that are stable in this size range, which no one has ever been able to do before. These double nanoemulsions are generally hard to form and very unstable, but ours are very stable.”

…”This gives us a new tool, a new material, for drug delivery and anticancer applications,” said Thomas G. Mason…

“If we have water-soluble drugs, we can load them inside,” Deming said. “If we have water-insoluble drugs, we can load them inside as well. We can deliver them simultaneously.”

“Here, you effectively combine both types of drug molecules in the same delivery package,” Mason said. “This approach could be used for a combination therapy where you want to deliver two drugs simultaneously at a fixed ratio into the same location.”

…For example, one approach might involve an anticancer drug in the oil and a toxin-protein in the water — two molecules trying to kill the cell simultaneously. While a cell can develop resistance to a single drug, the combination approach can be more effective, the scientists said.

The research was published in Nature (abstract).

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