Researchers use magnetism to keep drugs at disease sites


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“Magnetically reactive” microscopic drug carrier

Researchers were able to use magnetism to hold “magnetically reactive” microscopic drug carriers at selected sites, even in the presence of external forces, such as the flow of liquid, that would normally displace them.

They also found that magnetism restricted the movement of cells containing these drug capsules. This suggests that even if immune cells captured or engulfed drug carriers, they would be unable to eliminate them from the body.

Dr David Gould, Principal Investigator at Queen Mary, said: “We know that targeting drug delivery vehicles to particular disease sites can improve their effectiveness, but they will often be cleared from the body via lymphatic vessels or through the body. immune cells, which swallow small drugs. vehicles, as they would invade bacteria.

“In this study, we showed in an in vitro system that the application of magnetism to small ‘magnetically reactive’ drug delivery vehicles can help retain them at the delivery site, presenting a novel approach to drug delivery. localized administration of drugs. Interestingly, we also saw that even though cells engulfed the vehicles, these cells were unable to get out of the magnetic field, so the drugs always stayed at the site they needed. “

Develop safe and “reactive” drug carriers

To make drug delivery vehicles magnetism sensitive, tiny iron nanoparticles, known as SPIONS, were incorporated into the structure of the carrier during its assembly by a method devised by Professor Gleb Sukhorukov of the School of Engineering and Materials Science by Queen Mary.

Previous studies have suggested that SPIONS can sometimes cause the production of harmful substances called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are toxic to cells.

However, the postdoctoral researcher working on the project, Dr Jordan Read, found that ROSs were not produced after delivery of their ‘magnetically reactive’ drug vectors to cells, suggesting that they can be used in completely safe in the body.

Improved treatment results

Being able to administer treatments locally, at the site of a disease, can increase the effectiveness of drugs, while reducing side effects that result from the drug being released elsewhere in the body.

In this study, the researchers showed that this magnetic retention technique could successfully deliver the potent anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, to a specific location.

Dr Gould said: “For conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, we know that the beneficial effects of treatments come from their effects within the joint, so by developing methods that can keep drugs in the joint, we hope to produce longer lasting effects, reduce side effects, and ultimately improve treatment results.

“This study shows that we are able to use this new drug delivery system to keep a strong anti-inflammatory drug, where it is needed, but we believe this system could be applicable to many more. medications.”

The study is part of an ongoing interdisciplinary research collaboration between Dr Gould of the William Harvey Research Institute and Professor Sukhorukov of the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary, and was funded by Versus Arthritis.

Angela Davies, Head of Research Engagement at Versus Arthritis, says: “Many treatments for arthritis and related conditions have unpleasant side effects for people who take them and are not as effective as we would like. Finding new ways to deliver and maintain treatments to affected areas may offer a way to help resolve these issues. These results, although at a very early stage, show the potential for an innovative approach to tackle this problem. We look forward to seeing how this research will evolve. “

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