Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have developed a biological mechanism that can act as an entirely new means of drug delivery, carrying with it the potential to make treating illness even more effective. Rather than simply circulating in the bloodstream, the laboratory-developed peptide can deliver nanoparticles directly into tissue.
Senior author Erkki Ruoslahti of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research at UCSB explains, “when giving a drug to a patient, it circulates in the bloodstream, but often doesn’t get into the tissue. This is especially true with tumors.”
Ruoslahti’s team conducted a study using prostate cancer cells to determine whether the peptide, essentially a small piece of protein they developed, could successfully transport “cargo” to the targeted cancer tissue. Like a passenger on a bus arriving at its destination, the cargo – in this case drug nanoparticles or even other cells – exits the blood vessel and then goes about its business, which is to penetrate the target tissue.
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