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Nanoparticles That Look and Act Like Cells

February 21, 2013 07:41 AM EST By: Jennifer Rocha

By cloaking nanoparticles in the membranes of white blood cells, scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute may have found a way to prevent the body from recognizing and destroying them before they deliver their drug payloads.

Story content courtesy of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, US

“Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered,” said Department of Medicine Co-Chair Ennio Tasciotti, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator. “We accomplished this with the lipids and proteins present on the membrane of the very same cells of the immune system.”

Tasciotti and his group took metabolically active leukocytes (white blood cells) and developed a procedure to separate membranes from cell innards. By coating their nanoparticles with intact membranes in their native composition of lipids and proteins, the researchers created the first drug-carrying nanoparticles that look and act like cells—leukolike vectors.

“Being able to use synthetic membranes or artificially-created membrane is definitely something we are planning for the future,” Tasciotti said. “But for now, using our white blood cells is the most effective approach because they provide a finished product. The proteins that give us the greatest advantages are already within the membrane and we can use it as-is.”

As the technology is developed, Tasciotti said a patient’s own white cells could be harvested and used to create personalized LLVs.

This work was funded by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program.

 

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