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Nanotechnology Developed To Fight Brain Infections

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Human Brain

Scientists have found a new way to treat deadly and often disabling brain infections, using nanoparticles that penetrate the blood brain barrier. Infections of the brain can occur at any age, and can be caused by bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

Meningitis is a particularly worrisome brain infection that can infect infants, youth and adolescents. Singapore researchers have found a way to use nanotechnology to produce a highly effective and safe treatment that seeks out bacteria in the brain.

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of Singapore have developed peptide nanoparticles that can seek out and destroy deadly infections in the brain. The particles are superior because they are small enough to penetrate the brain membrane, offering an alternative to conventional antibiotics with large molecules. The study is published in Nature Nanotechnology.

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Yiyan Yang, Ph.D., group leader at IBN, one of the research institutes sponsored by Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) explains how the new technology destroys infections in the brain –“Our treatment damages the structure of the pathogen and literally breaks it apart." He adds, “These nanoparticles can easily enter bacteria, yeast or fungal cells and destabilize them to cause cell death. For example, the nanoparticles cause damage to bacteria cell walls and prevent further bacterial growth."

The study showed the new way of seeking out and killing deadly brain infections is highly effective, and even more potent for destroying fungal infections than conventional drugs on the market. They are also safe.

Dr. Yang says, "Our interdisciplinary research groups have made tremendous progress in finding novel drug and gene delivery avenues for medical treatments. With this peptide nanoparticle, we have found a way through the blood brain barrier and produced a treatment for previously challenging diseases."

The findings give new hope to treating antibiotic resistant infections. Infections of the brain can cause permanent disability, fatality, hearing loss and brain damage. The nanoparticle peptides are more effective than anti-fungal drugs such as fluconazole and amphotericin B. The new treatment using nanotechnology to fight deadly brain infection targets bacterial and fungal infections, without damaging the kidneys, liver, or destroying red blood cells.

Source: Agency for Science