Fluorescent-based tool reveals how medical nanoparticles biodegrade in real time: May inform development of versatile drug carriers for therapeutic uses in patients
Philadelphia: April, 2014: A new study presents a unique method to directly measure nanoparticle degradation in real time within biological environments.
First, however, researchers must demonstrate the properly timed disintegration of these extremely small structures, a process essential for their performance and their ability to be safely cleared out of a patient’s body after their job is done.
“Nanoparticles are made with very diverse designs and properties, but all of them need to be eventually eliminated from the body after they complete their task,” said cardiology researcher Michael Chorny, Ph.D., of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “We offer a new method to analyze and characterize nanoparticle disassembly, as a necessary step in translating nanoparticles into clinical use.”
With diameters ranging from a few tens to a few hundreds of nanometers, these particles are 10 to 1000 times smaller than red blood cells (a nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter). One major challenge is to continuously monitor the fate of nanoparticles in model biological settings and in living cells without disrupting cell functions.
“Accurately measuring nanoparticle disassembly in real time directly in media of interest, such as the interior of a living cell or other types of complex biological milieu, is challenging. Our goal here was to develop such a noninvasive method providing unbiased results,” said Chorny. “These results will help researchers to customize nanoparticle formulations for specific therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Based on these results, we can improve the particle design in order to make them safer and more effective”.
“We found that disassembly is likely to occur more rapidly early in the vessel healing process and slow down later. This may have implications for the design of nanoparticles intended for targeted drug, gene or cell therapy of vascular disease,” said Chorny.
The current research, while immediately relevant to restenosis therapy and magnetically guided delivery, has much broader potential applications. “Nanoparticles could be formulated with contrast agents for diagnostic imaging, or could deliver anticancer drugs to a tumor,” said Chorny. “Our measuring tool can help researchers to develop and optimize their nanomedicine formulations for a range of medical uses.”