By Cameron Chai
Researchers from the University of Southern California and Duke University have published a report in the current issue of Technology & Innovation describing how self-assembling nano-sized instruments will revolutionize the field of nanomedicine.
Self-assembling equipment at the nano scale level with dimensions about a billionth of a meter is designed to transport imaging materials and drugs into the body. The development of such nano-sized equipment can improve bio-distribution and drug solubility. The devices provide a basis for integration of targeting and imaging agents and allows crossing of membrane barriers in addition to making imaging agent and drug combination therapies feasible.
Their report discusses about two classes of self-assembled delivery instruments at the nanoscale level that can be used to carry drugs and imaging agents across physiological barriers that they, independently would not be able to cross. The paper's corresponding author stated that the nanoscale self-assembly instruments are complicated structures that are formed from simple parts either naturally or engineered. The complex structure of the nanoscale instruments cannot be attained easily by chemical synthesis.
According to Ashutosh Chilkoti and his co-authors, many biological events depend on structures that assemble or disassemble due to physiological needs and environmental variations. Natural self-assemblies, for example, proteins and viral capsids depend on weak forces whereas engineered self-assemblies utilized in nanomedicine include the micellar nanostructure and more than five categories of structural shapes. The authors of the report studied the physiochemical and structural properties and the potential applications of each structure type.
According to Dr Chilkoti, they have designed a method that attaches doxorubicin, a cancer drug to micelles that were self-assembled from recombinant polypeptides and used them for drug delivery. Dr MacKay stated that the stability of micelles is crucial for their use as drug carriers and the factors influencing their stability can be manipulated at the genetic level.