Researchers Develop New Molecule Capable of Carrying Drugs in the Body
A research team from the Kansas State University, in the United States of America, has discovered a new molecule that could be capable of delivering medication inside the organism in order to treat various illnesses.
This is the first time that a research team manages to design and create a membrane-bounded vesicle that is completely made out of peptides. Peptides are small molecules consisting of amino acids. Scientists say that their new molecule will be capable to deliver drugs into the organism, targeting tumors and neurodegenerative diseases.
The study, led by biochemistry professor John Tomich was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. A patent for the molecule is currently pending. Professor Tomich describes these new molecules as bubbles, because of the chemical properties of the peptides. These peptides consist of naturally occurring amino acids, that form a shape that is hollow on the inside. When created in a solution containing water, the bubble is filled with water instead of being filled with air.
The newly developed molecules can be created in a solution that contains a certain drug, thus allowing the drug to be encapsulated in the bubble. This resembles a gelatin capsule that usually contains oral medication. These vesicles can then be administered in the particular part of the organism, thus minimizing any potential adverse effects.
“We see this as a new way to deliver any kind of molecule to cells. We know that in certain diseases subpopulations of cells have gone awry, and we’d like to be able to specifically target them instead of attacking every cell, including healthy ones”, said professor Tomich.
Another use of the new molecule could be in gene therapy. Gene therapy is currently undergoing numerous clinical trials, having one major challenge: the delivery of the genes to the correct location. Current methods include the injection of cells that contain a virus into the organism, to be further carries by liposome-fatty compounds. However, this current method has several side effects. One of these side-effects is that if a virus is used, the immune system of the patient could attack it or even cause a tumor. Furthermore, the lipid-based carry system could cause local inflammation that would lead to an improper cellular binding.
The newly developed molecules have a major advantage over the current systems. The peptides that are being used to create the vesicle have an improved durability and stability. Moreover, they are created faster, are easier to use and they can be injected into a specific area of the body.
Professor Tomich said that these peptides have the ability to target organs, tumors, tissues or even cells, whilst also being able to encapsulate antibodies, toxins and other chemical reagents. He concluded that the current discovery has a potential that is still waiting to be discovered.