Specific Nanoparticle Design Required For Drug Delivery

Armen Hareyan's picture

Drug Delivery

A team of researchers led by Omid Farokhzad at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Robert Langer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have demonstrated the precision required to engineer a nanoparticle that is effective in targeted drug delivery. Details of their work are published in the January issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"More isn't always better when it comes to attaching targeting molecules or other functionalities to the surface of nanoparticles," said Omid Farokhzad, corresponding author on the paper, researcher at BWH and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. "A narrow window exists when the properties of a targeted particle are optimally engineered to work well."


Investigators demonstrate in this paper, an engineering approach to identify what the narrow window for optimal performance is for each parameter.

"Until now, there has been no good way to ensure that a targeted nanoparticle is consistently successful," said Robert Langer, institute professor at MIT and coauthor on the study.

Targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles is very challenging, in part because these nanoparticles must be designed precisely with molecular specificity to evade the immune system, be absorbed by certain cells and release the drug. Replicating nanoparticles designed with these specific parameters is rarely possible. The researchers have engineered self-assembling nanoparticles that share similar biochemical properties, overcoming this major challenge. Mouse models of prostate cancer were used to demonstrate successful targeting of cancerous cells and drug delivery with the self-assembling nanoparticles.

"This exciting finding adds validation to the role that nanotechnology can play in treating cancer and has application to any disease that can be targeted with nanoparticles," said Frank Gu, the primary author of the study and researcher in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology.