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New 'Triggered-Release' Mechanism Could Improve Drug Delivery

Polymer nanoparticles release targeted drug molecules

A new method for triggering the rearrangement of chemical particles could lead to more-efficient medical treatments, according to a report from the U.K.

The new method, developed at the University of Warwick, uses two “parent” nanoparticles that are designed to interact only when in proximity to each other and to trigger the release of drug molecules contained within both.

The release of the drug molecules from the “parent” nanoparticles could subsequently form a third “daughter” particle, which comprises molecules from both “parent” nanoparticles.

The research, led by Professor Andrew Dove, suggests that this new mechanism could potentially limit adverse effects by releasing drugs only where they are required.

“We conceive that, in the bloodstream, the particles would not be able to interact sufficiently to lead to release; only when they are taken into cells would the release be able to happen,” Dove said. “In this way, the drug can be targeted to release only where we want it to and therefore be more effective and reduce side effects.”

The chemical composition of the two “parent” nanoparticles is crucial to the new method, Dove explained.

“The two ‘parent’ nanoparticles used in the new mechanism are cylindrical in shape and are made from polymer chains that differ only by the way in which chemical bonds are directed within a part of the structure,” he said. “When the two ‘parent’ nanoparticles are in close-enough proximity, the polymer chains are driven to come together to form a new ‘daughter’ nanoparticle by a phenomenon known as stereocomplexation. In the process of this rearrangement, we propose that any molecules, such as drug molecules, that are encapsulated within the parent particles will be released.”

Published in Nature Communications, the research could “raise new possibilities in how we can administer medical treatments,” Dove said. “We’re planning to study this as a new treatment for cancer, but the principle could potentially be applied to a wide range of diseases.”

Source: University of Warwick; January 16, 2015.

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