Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Improved Nanoparticles Deliver Drugs Into Brain

Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Researchers report they are one step closer to having a drug-delivery system flexible enough to overcome some key challenges posed by brain cancer and perhaps other maladies affecting that organ.

In a report published online on August 29 in Science Translational Medicine, the Johns Hopkins team says its bioengineers have designed nanoparticles that can safely and predictably infiltrate deep into the brain when tested in rodent and human tissue.

“We are pleased to have found a way to prevent drug-embedded particles from sticking to their surroundings so that they can spread once they are in the brain,” says Justin Hanes, Ph.D., Lewis J. Ort Professor of Ophthalmology, with secondary appointments in chemical and biomolecular engineering, biomedical engineering, oncology, neurological surgery and environmental health sciences, and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Nanomedicine.

After surgery to remove a brain tumor, standard treatment protocols include the application of chemotherapy directly to the surgical site to kill any cells left behind that could not be surgically removed. To date, this method of preventing tumor recurrence is only moderately successful, in part, because it is hard to administer a dose of chemotherapy high enough to sufficiently penetrate the tissue to be effective and low enough to be safe for the patient and healthy tissue.

To overcome this dosage challenge, engineers designed nanoparticles – about one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair – that deliver the drug in small, steady quantities over a period of time. Conventional drug-delivery nanoparticles are made by entrapping drug molecules together with microscopic, string-like molecules in a tight ball, which slowly breaks down when it comes in contact with water. According to Charles Eberhart, M.D., a Johns Hopkins pathologist and contributor to this work, these nanoparticles historically have not worked very well because they stick to cells at the application site and tend to not migrate deeper into the tissue.

Elizabeth Nance, a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering at Hopkins, and Hopkins neurosurgeon Graeme Woodworth, M.D., suspected that drug penetration might be improved if drug-delivery nanoparticles interacted minimally with their surroundings. Nance first coated nano-sized plastic beads of various sizes with a clinically tested molecule called PEG, or poly(ethylene glycol), that had been shown by others to protect nanoparticles from the body’s defense mechanisms. The team reasoned that a dense layer of PEG might also make the beads more slippery.

The team then injected the coated beads into slices of rodent and human brain tissue. They first labeled the beads with glowing tags that enabled them to see the beads as they moved through the tissue. Compared to non-PEG-coated beads, or beads with a less dense PEG coating, they found that a dense coating of PEG allowed larger beads to penetrate the tissue, even those beads that were nearly twice the size previously thought to be the maximum possible for penetration within the brain. They then tested these beads in live rodent brains and found the same results.

The researchers then took biodegradable nanoparticles carrying the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel and coated them with PEG. As expected, in rat brain tissue, nanoparticles without the PEG coating moved very little, while PEG-covered nanoparticles distributed themselves quite well.

“It’s really exciting that we now have particles that can carry five times more drug, release it for three times as long and penetrate farther into the brain than before,” says Nance. “The next step is to see if we can slow tumor growth or recurrence in rodents.” Woodworth added that the team “also wants to optimize the particles and pair them with drugs to treat other brain diseases, like multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” Another goal for the team is to be able to administer their nanoparticles intravenously, which is research they have already begun.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Protein Clumps in Autopsy Brain Cells of ALS Patients Explained
Autopsies of nearly every patient with the lethal neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and many with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), show pathologists telltale clumps of a protein called TDP-43.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Gut Microbes Signal to the Brain When They're Full
Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Batten Disease may Benefit from Gene Therapy
NIH-funded animal study suggests one-shot approach to injecting genes.
Shedding Light on “Dark” Cellular Receptors
UNC and UCSF labs create a new research tool to find homes for two orphan cell-surface receptors, a crucial step toward finding better therapeutics and causes of drug side effects.
Molecule Proves Key to Brain Repair After Stroke
Scientists found that a molecule known as growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) plays a key role in repair mechanisms following stroke.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos