Promising results could mean steps forward in preventing both diseases
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/23/2012 -- There has been great promise shown in targeting delivery of drugs to cells by nanoparticles; however, researchers at the University of Georgia have refined the drug delivery process by utilizing the particles to deliver drugs to organelle within the cells.
By focusing on the targeting of mitochondria (the cells’ powerhouses) the researchers can increase the effectiveness of mitochondria-acting therapeutics utilize in cancer treatments, as well as obesity and dementia with cultured cells.
"The mitochondrion is a complex organelle that is very difficult to reach, but these nanoparticles are engineered so that they do the right job in the right place," says senior author Shanta Dhar, an assistant professor of chemistry in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Dhar and her co-author, Sean Marrache, use a polymer to create the nanoparticles and use them to encapsulate the drugs in order to treat conditions. Recent results have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They are testing the effectiveness of the drug on targeting rather difficult afflictions such as cancers, encapsulating the lonidamine, and a form of vitamin E. Treated cultured cancer cells are were found to be affected by the mitochondria, which targeted the cancer. The targeting was 100 more efficient than with drugs alone. It was five times more efficient when compared to delivery of drugs via nanoparticles that target the outside of the cell.
The compound curcumin has shown particular promise in inhibiting the formation of amyloid plaques, which are the predecessor to Alzheimers disease. By encapsulating curcumin in the mitochondria-targeting nanoparticles, the researcher effectively, restore the brain cells in culture to survive despite the presence of the plagues. Close to 100% of cells treated with curcumin, and 70% of cells treated with nanoparticles targeting outside the cell, remained intact.
"A lot of diseases are associated with dysfunctional mitochondria, but many of the drugs that act on the mitochondria can't get there," Marrache says. "Rather than try to alter the drugs, which can reduce their effectiveness, we encapsulate them in these nanoparticles and precisely deliver them to the mitochondria."
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