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New Technique to Deliver Life-Saving Drugs to the Brain

April 18, 2013

Researchers from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University (FIU) report developing a novel technique that uses magneto-electric nanoparticles (MENs) to deliver antiretroviral therapies to HIV-infected brain cells. According to Professor Madhavan Nair, PhD, a natural filter prevents most substances from passing into the brain. As a result, more than 99 percent of HIV therapies, such as AZTTP, go to the lungs, liver, and other organs, leaving reservoirs of HIV hidden in the brain.

Nair and Professor Sakhrat Khizroev, PhD -- an electrical engineer and physicist -- developed a technique that binds AZTTP to a MEN that is inserted into a monocyte/macrophage cell and injected into the body. Next, the team uses a magnet to draw the MEN into the brain, where a low electrical current triggers release of the drug. Magnetoelectricity then guides the drug to its target. The team has successfully tested the technique in a laboratory setting, and will soon begin the next phase of testing.

Khizroev anticipates that the technique also might be useful for treating other neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, meningitis, chronic pain, and cancer.

The full report, "Externally Controlled On-Demand Release of Anti-HIV Drug Using Magneto-Electric Nanoparticles as Carriers," was published online in the journal Nature (2013; doi:10.1038/ncomms2717).

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Excerpted from:
Florida International University
04.16.2013; Marlen Mursuli

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