Nanopills Release Drugs Directly from the Inside of Cells

A new and promising platform for drug administration

Researchers at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) have created nanoparticles which could release drugs directly from the cells’ interior. The technology, which has been named “nanopills,” was licensed to the firm Janus Developments of the Barcelona Scientific Park, which verified its tolerance by administering it in vivo.

UAB researchers developed a new vehicle to release proteins with therapeutic effects. This is known as “bacteria-inclusion bodies,” stable insoluble nanoparticles which normally are found in recombinant bacteria. Even though these inclusion bodies traditionally have been an obstacle in the industrial production of soluble enzymes and biodrugs, they were recently recognised as having large amounts of functional proteins with direct values in industrial and biomedical applications.

The research team led by Antoni Vallverde from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB) at UAB worked in collaboration with the Online Biomedical Research Centre for Bioengineering, Biomaterials, and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) to verify the value of these nanoparticles as natural “nanopills” with a strong capacity to penetrate cells and carry out biological activities. The nanopill concept represents a new and promising platform for drug administration and illustrates the yet to be explored power of microbian materials in medicine.

The researchers, in a multidisciplinary study at UAB led by Dr Esther Vàzquez, packaged four proteins containing different therapeutic effects into experimental nanopills, the inclusion bodies of the bacteria Escherichia coli. They put the bacteria in contact with cell cultures of mammals under similar conditions to those found in real clinical pathologies, “sick” cells with low viability, and achieved to recover their activity.

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