ANCHOR LEAD: CAN COATING SMALL PARTICLES HELP THEM PENETRATE? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Nanoparticles are very tiny particles that excite researchers because of their potential for reaching very small targets in the body, such as inside cells, and carrying drugs or other therapeutics there. But since most of the body’s internal surfaces are coated in mucus, even these minute invaders are quickly glued down. Now Johns Hopkins researchers led by Justin Hanes, are coating nanoparticles to allow them passage
HANES: Nanoparticles in mucus can kind of pinball their way around using thermal energy, and they pinball around but mucus doesn’t let them go too far usually because its very adhesive to most things and they get stuck. And so we started looking to viruses for a sort of inspiration. We can’t get our therapeutics through very effectively, and so how do we design a particle that would have more of the surface characteristics of a virus in some sense without being harmful, so that we could get it through these barriers so that we can get sustained delivery of drugs at mucosal sites. :29
Hanes is using a polymer of polyethylene glycol to keep his nanoparticles mobile. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.