DRUGS could be activated in biological environments such as living cells by Single-Chain Polymeric Nanoparticles (SCPN) mimicking enzymes, according to researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain. It is hoped that these nanoparticles could ultimately be used to spatially control drug delivery when treating diseases such as cancer.
Optimising Delivery Strategies
In their study, the team ensured that SCPN, which are nanometre-sized objects inspired by the way enzymes work, were able to retain their catalytic activity at the cellular environment by optimising their delivery strategies. The researchers believe this could ultimately lead to the rational design of nanosystems that can perform effective catalysis in vivo.
The research, the first to demonstrate the viability of artificial enzymes in complex biological environments, showed how SCPN could carry a synthetic catalyser within a cell without interfering with any of the regular cellular behaviours. Depending upon the intended application, the SCPN can be delivered either intra or extracellularly. This provides the potential for a variety of different uses, including photodynamic therapy (intracellular) and organometallic catalysts, used for controlled drug delivery (extracellular).
It is the latter application that was of particular interest to the researchers in the study, as it displays the possibility of SCPN activating anti-tumour drugs delivered via the blood stream just at the tumour area. “So far, we have obtained promising results by locally activating a fluorophore with the SCPN as catalysts just at the SCPN exposed areas,” explained Dr Lorenzo Albertazzi, IBEC. “We believe that these enzyme-like nanoparticles could be used for their pro-drug activity in different biomedical applications.”
James Coker, Reporter
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