Nanoparticles show potential as pills of the future
Orally-administered nanoparticles may one day be used in developing new treatments for a range of conditions, according to a new study.
Currently, nanoparticles—microscopic particles whose sizes are measured in nanometers—are currently available only in injectable form. Depending on the type of disease being treated, scientists insert chemotherapy or other types of drugs into the nanoparticles, which are then used to directly treat diseased areas of the human body, such as tumors.
Researchers from M.I.T and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have discovered a way to deliver nanoparticle treatments orally—which has previously been a challenge because researchers didn’t know how to make the nanoparticles travel through the barrier of cells in the intestines and into the bloodstream.
In the new study, researchers coated nanoparticles with something that could pass through this barrier of cells—proteins called Fc proteins. Using this method, researchers tested insulin that was orally administered into mice’s bloodstream. The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that the nanoparticles were able to pass through the cell barriers by essentially latching on to the Fc proteins, and the insulin successfully lowered the mice’s blood sugar levels.
Using this method of drug delivery, researchers said they hope to develop nanoparticle pills for treating conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol and different types of cancer.