Scientists in Idaho and Korea are reporting development of a protein coating that may turn nanowires into a new drug delivery system that could allow use of lower doses of medicine that are less harmful to normal cells. In a report scheduled for ACS' Nano Letters, they describe use of the coating to enable silica nanowires to enter cultured human cells and deliver a lethal dose of toxin.
Gregory Bohach, David McIlroy, Carolyn Hovde, and their colleagues point that nanowires and other nanomaterials (NMs), which are 50,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair, have great potential as new drug delivery systems. NMs may penetrate tumors more easily, for instance, and could be coated with antibodies or other materials that home in on target cells while sparing normal cells.
One roadblock, however, involves finding ways to enable NMs to easily penetrate cells. The researchers report nanowires coated with the protein fibronectin penetrate cells more easily than uncoated nanowires. In experiments with human and animal cells, they showed that coated nanowires can enter and deliver a toxic agent called StxA1 that killed the cells. "This indicates that nanowires can carry StxA1 and potentially other toxic or therapeutic agents into cells," the researchers said.
Reference: "Nanowire-Based Delivery of Escherichia coli O157 Shiga Toxin 1 A Subunit into Human and Bovine Cells," Nano Letters, September 12, 2007.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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