Stealth nanoparticles for long term in vivo drug treatment

In nano on September 28, 2006 at 7:06 pm

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Phagocytosis is a cellular phenomena that describes the process in which phagocytes (specialized cells such as macrophages) destroy viruses and foreign particles in blood. Phagocytes are an important part of the immune system. Unfortunately, phagocytes are also a major limitation for the intravenous delivery of polymeric nanoparticles. The use of such nanoparticles to deliver therapeutic agents is currently being studied as a promising method by which drugs can be effectively targeted to specific cells in the body, such as cancerous cells. Researchers at Penn State are trying to trick the body’s immune system, and increase the circulation time of nano drug carriers in the blood, with stealth drug nanoparticles that could be fabricated by self-assembling a shell on the surface of a solid drug core. This research could lead to the possibility of long term drug treatment in vivo.
Nanoparticles become recognizable to the cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS), and are subsequently cleared from circulation by phagocytosis, through a process called opsonization. An opsonin is a proteinaceous molecule that acts as a binding enhancer for the process of phagocytosis. Phagocytic cells express receptors that bind opsonin molecules.

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