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School of Medicine
Promise and Progress - Special Delivery: Biodegradable Particles Transport Drugs to Diseased Tissues and Organs
The Time is Now: 2010-2011
Special Delivery: Biodegradable Particles Transport Drugs to Diseased Tissues and Organs
Date: November 11, 2010
Justin Hanes helped develop nanoparticles which degrade over time into harmless components. This could one day carry life-saving drugs to patients suffering from dozens of health conditions, including cancer.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2010
Researchers have created biodegradable ultra tiny, nanosized particles that can easily slip through the body’s sticky and viscous mucus secretions to deliver a sustained-release medication cargo.
The interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Justin Hanes, Ph.D., professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Nanomedicine, developed the nanoparticles, which degrade over time into harmless components. The team believes they could one day carry life-saving drugs to patients suffering from dozens of health conditions, including cancer.
The new technology is expected to help patients suffering from diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, that affect mucus-lined surfaces of the body, but the nanoparticles also could be used to help treat lung and cervical cancers, says Hanes. He is working with Chien-Fu Hung, Ph.D., and T.C. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., to develop their use in cancer treatment. “Chemotherapy is typically given to the whole body and has many undesired side effects,” he said. “For example, if drugs are encapsulated in these nanoparticles and inhaled directly into the lungs of lung cancer patients, drugs may reach lung tumors more effectively, and improved outcomes may be achieved, especially for patients diagnosed with early stage non–small cell lung cancer.”
The new biodegradable particles are comprised of two parts made of molecules routinely used in existing medications. An inner core traps therapeutic agents inside while a dense outer coating allows a particle to move through mucus nearly as easily as if it were moving through water and also permits the drug to remain in contact with affected tissues for an extended period of time.
“The major advance here is that we were able make biodegradable nanoparticles that can rapidly penetrate thick and sticky mucus secretions, and that these particles can transport a wide range of therapeutic molecules, from small molecules, such as chemotherapeutics and steroids, to macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids,” Hanes said. “Previously, we could not get these kinds of sustained-release treatments through the body’s sticky mucus layers effectively.”
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, a National Center for Research Resources Clinical and Translational Science Award, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the National Science Foundation and a Croucher Foundation Fellowship.
Articles in this Issue
Cover Story: Personalized Medicine is Here, The Time is Now
- Personalized Medicine is Here: The Time is Now
- Cover Story Sidebar: Our Cancer Research is Curing Other Diseases Too
- Cover Story Sidebar: A New Paradigm for Cancer Drug Discovery
- Cover Story Sidebar: Personalized Approaches in Pediatric Cancer
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Frankenstein Project
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Serendipitous Discovery of a Cancer Starter
- Cover Story Sidebar: The Mathematics of Curing Cancer
- Immune Cell Commander
- A Personalized Genetic Profile for Brain Cancer
- A New "Twist" in Breast Cancer
- JHU Engineering Student Invents Melanoma Screening Device
- Special Delivery: Biodegradable Particles Transport Drugs to Diseased Tissues and Organs
- Targeting Brain Cancer Stem Cells
- Vaccine Clears Out Leukemia Cells
- Does Low Cholesterol Equal Lower Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer?
- A Common Good - The Commonwealth Foundation
- Helping Us Solve The Cancer Puzzle
- The Skip Viragh Center
- Making Waves to Fight Cancer
- Gift Brings Complementary Care to Cancer Patients
- A Major Gift for Kidney Cancer Research
- Giant Food Supports Childhood Cancer Research
- Wawa Cares About Cancer Patients
- Young Lacrosse Players Faced Off Against Childhood Cancer