New nanocarriers to transport drug payloads to the brain

With one hand, Rizia Bardhan, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Iowa State Universitymade a fist, then covered it with her other hand, similar to a baseball player holding a ball in the net of a fielder’s glove.

Iowa State University and Nanovaccine Institute researchers, left to right, Anuisha Sarkar, Rizia Bardhan, and Donald Sakaguchi are working to create nanocarriers that transport drugs across the blood-brain barrier. Image Credit: Christopher Gannon

The grip refers to a unique drug-filled nanocarrier; On the other hand, the cell decides whether to pick up those nanoparticles and then transports the drugs through its protective membrane into it.

This type of cellular uptake depends on two conditions, Bardhan said.

First, the surface properties of the nanoparticles must be satisfactory to the cell. The correct bonds or bonds must be present, which will detect that the particles are friendly and stick to the receiving cell. Second, the particle must be of the correct stiffness—not too soft or hard—for the cell to receive it.

If it is too soft, it will get stuck in the cell membrane. If it is too difficult, some immune cells will absorb the nanoparticles and remove them from the cell.

Rizea Bardhan, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University

Therefore, Bardhan and her collaborators have formulated a new method for creating nanocarriers for drug delivery.

Their technology consists of a soft, lipid-like interior (a clinically approved ex-drug carrier) surrounded by a hard shell of gold nanoparticles.

We group soft and hard together, which is why they are called hybrid nanocarriers.

Rizea Bardhan, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University

Bardhan explained that the particles would be no more than 100 billionths of a meter wide. “This hard and soft provides a wide range of mechanical properties to achieve high cellular uptake,” Bardhan added.

The idea is to use hybrid nanocarriers to transport drugs for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders across the human body’s blood-brain barrier, a major obstacle the body arranges to protect the brain from pathogens.

The National Science Foundation is assisting the project with a grant of $650,000 over three years.

The three Bardane fellows are all from Iowa State University and are affiliated with the Iowa-based Nanovaccine Institute: Donald Sakaguchi, Morrell Professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Saji Othaman, Research Scientist in Chemical and Biological Engineering and Anoisha Sarkar, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Sakaguchi will explore nanocarriers in biological models of the blood-brain barrier, Othaman and Bardan will create and improve nanocarriers, and Sarkar will study the mechanical features of nanocarriers with the help of atomic force microscopy.

unconventional approach

Bardane stated that the main goal of the study is to determine which of the molecular and mechanical properties of the nanocarrier can act and modify it to cross the blood-brain barrier efficiently.

Scientists will also modify the nanocarriers by using low-level infrared lasers, such as those used by dermatologists, to raise the temperature of the nanocarriers to elevated temperatures, rupturing their membranes and discharging their medicinal payloads into the target cells.

It will all go forward “Drug delivery in hard-to-treat brain disorders” The researchers wrote in the project summary. Bardhan stated that these diseases can include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, ischemic stroke, and seizures.

The scientists wrote that their hybrid, modified, and targeted method generates “unconventional nanocarriers.”

Most researchers usually work at the extreme. They deal with nanoparticles that are either very hard or very soft. The area in between is unexplored.

Rizea Bardhan, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University

This is still a good place to explore. As scholars wrote, “Therapeutic nanocarriers have changed the landscape of multiple diseases by enabling site-specific drug delivery.”