Experimental and innovative new technologies play a crucial role in advancing the medical sphere. Although nanomedicine is uniquely poised to treat diseases through nanotechnology, it typically comes with a price: poor blood circulation. However, states Science Codex, Russian researchers recently developed new technology to improve and prolong blood circulation for nanomedicines. In addition to increasing the medication’s efficacy, the technology works without having to adjust the nanomedicines. Read the full findings in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Nanomedicine: An Overview
So before I explain the new technology, let’s first go over what nanomedicine is. ScienceDirect defines the concept as:
the use of nanotechnology for medical therapeutics by developing nanoscale agents for the treatment of various kinds of diseases.
Basically, nanomedicine uses nanotechnology to manipulate matter on an extremely small scale. For example, some drug therapies use nanoparticles (a structure of molecules) to take multiple complex actions when treating diseases. Instead of simply activating or deactivating drug receptors, nanomedicine can find and identify cancerous cells, share the location of tumors with clinicians, and even damage and kill cancerous cells.
However, nanomedicine has not always been the most effective treatment option. Because our immune system views nanoparticles as foreign invaders (akin to a virus or bacteria), our body quickly removes nanoparticles from our blood. As a result, nanomedicine struggled with reaching the therapeutic target.
To understand how to improve the efficacy of nanomedicine, researchers proposed a solution to “trick” the immune system. Each day, our immune system takes old red blood cells out of our bloodstream. So, researchers wondered whether stimulating this process would cause the immune system to focus more on this task as opposed to clearing out nanoparticles.
To test their hypothesis, researchers injected mice with red blood cell-specific antibodies. Each mouse received 1.25mg of antibodies per kg/weight. In doing this “cytoblockade,” as researchers call it, nanoparticle-related blood circulation increased. As a result, the nanomedicine was made more effective. Additionally, researchers determined that this method is also fairly safe. Alongside a minimal drop in red blood cell count, the mice experienced no serious adverse reactions.
Through additional testing, researchers found that using a cytoblockade allowed for better circulation of small, medium, and large nanoparticles. Timing of nanoparticle presence increased from 3-5 minutes of circulation to over 1 hour. This method does not prevent the body from fighting off other foreign invaders like bacteria!
Cancer and the Cytoblockade
Throughout the study, nanoparticles were considered as potential therapeutic options for a variety of conditions. In one test, researchers determined that adding a specialized molecule to nanoparticles allows for better and more targeted treatment. For examples, for patients with autoimmune disorders, nanoparticles can target the CD4 receptor with a customized antibody.
One set of experimentation sought to understand whether increasing circulation would allow for better cancer treatments. Through their new technology, researchers saw 23x more efficiency in nanoparticle delivery and magnetism. As a result, nanoparticles were able to deliver magnetite and doxorubicin straight to tumors, reducing damage in breast cancer, melanoma, and 3 other cancerous subsets.