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How nanocapsules serve as new-age drug carriers to beat cancer

M SOMASEKHAR | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 13, 2017

University of Hyderabad scientists devise a way to deliver potent drugs into tumours

Nanocapsules that are bio-degradable and capable of delivering a potent drug into a tumour have been developed for the first time by scientists at the University of Hyderabad (UoH).

A research group from Hyderabad University, along with collaborators from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, designed hollow poly-N-acryloyl L-phenyl alanine methyl ester (NAPA-HPN) nanocapsules, which are completely biosafe. They have validated its role in the efficient delivery of the medicine and action of sustained release, said Pradip Paik, UoH lead researcher.

The Nanomedicine made with NAPA-HPN is an alternative and supplementary therapeutic. It controls the delivery of Nitric Oxide (NO), blocks inhaled NO and prevents the formation of higher oxides of nitrogen metabolic byproducts, which are toxic to humans.

This makes it efficient in the management of various infectious and tumour diseases (cancer), where immunity-stimulation is a leading factor for the treatment, says Paik, an Associate Professor with the University’s School of Engineering Science & Technology.

The primary objective was to develop a polymeric drug delivery system capable of improving the therapeutic index of the drug/gas in sustained release mode to the targeted site. And the researchers designed amino-acid based polymer capsules that are biocompatible and biodegradable, besides being economical in design, he explained.

Nanomedicine is currently a hot favourite. Significant efforts have been made over the years to design suitable cargoes for efficient loading as well as the controlled/sustained delivery of drugs to infected cells for the efficient treatment in cancers and other deep infections. In most cases, they miss the targets, produce toxic components after reaction with biological fluids, produce the metabolic byproducts and hence are harmful for the living cells, says Paik.

The research team has validated the biological fate of the nanocapsules in macrophages, which are important cells of the body. The NAPA-HPNs, by themselves, could not influence metabolic activity of naïve macrophages, but with an NO-producing component, it enhanced the effect, exhibiting the important role of controlled release of NO.

Polymeric hollow nanocapsules have attracted significant research attention as novel drug carriers and their preparation is of particular concern owing to the feasibility to encapsulate a broad range of drug molecules.

Nanomedicine is a fast emerging area with enormous promise of tackling hitherto-complex and tough diseases like cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and infections. It uses the knowledge, tools and techniques of nanotechnology to treat as well as prevent diseases.

According to the journal Nature, nanomedicine involves the use of nanoscale materials such as biocompatible nano particles and nano robots etc for diagnosis, delivery, sensing or actuation purposes on living organisms.

The team of researchers on the nanocapsule project included Hridayesh Prakash, Anil Kumar Yamala, Vinod Nadella of the University and Yitzhak Mastai, Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

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Published on October 13, 2017
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