Chemical technology school develops nano particles for drug delivery

| | Updated on: Aug 18, 2012

Drug delivery is all set to go nano.

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (Hyderabad) have come up with potential nano particles to deliver DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and siRNA (short interfering ribonucleic acid) through the oral route as therapeutic materials.

According to scientist Manika Pal Bhadra of the IICT, these nano particles show no side effects and are eliminated from the body after delivery of the drug. “We have out licensed them to a Bangalore-based company for pre-clinical trials”, she told Business Line .

Nano particles, which are minute carriers of the size of, say, a virus or bacteria, are used to deliver biomaterials like DNA and RNA to the diseased cells or tissue.

Big advantage

The big advantage of this kind of drug delivery is that they can carry the correct dosage, target the medicine to the diseased site and minimise side effects. The role of the body’s immune system needs to be understood for efficient delivery of medicine through this route, according to global research reports.

At present, a wide variety of inorganic nano materials (from carbon, gold etc) are being used as drug delivery vehicles through injections. The challenges that confront this delivery route are — targeted release of the bio-material (medicine) and rapid clearance of the carriers that are considered for delivery of live cells.

Fruit Fly

The IICT researchers used an adult drosophila (fruit fly, typically used as model organisms for scientific studies) to demonstrate the delivery of siRNA orally . The fruit flies were fed these nano particles. The results showed no impairment of their sex, egg-laying capacity or survival, proving the non-toxic nature of the synthesised nano particles.

RNA Interference (RNAi) is a process within cells. By using small pieces of siRNA it is possible to silence the expression of any particular gene (genes are responsible for different characteristics in people) and thus stop production of specific proteins. This property makes them suitable for development as a new class of therapeutic drug in gene therapy, she said.

In comparative studies with commercially available gene delivery vehicles, the nano particles showed a better silencing of genes with almost zero toxicity to the fruit flies, she said.

However, a big barrier is the safe and effective delivery of RNA to the target tissues affected by the diseases such as cancer.

Several factors (both chemical and biological) come into play while delivering siRNAs, Manika Pal Bhadra said.


Published on August 18, 2012

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