New nanotechnique to deliver life-saving drugs to the brain

April 17, 2013 by Marlen Mursuli
FIU professor Madhavan Nair works with magnets to draw therapy to a specific site.

( —In a study published in today's issue of Nature Communications, researchers from FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine describe a revolutionary technique they have developed that can deliver and fully release the anti-HIV drug AZTTP into the brain.

Madhavan Nair, professor and chair, and Sakhrat Khizroev, professor and vice chair of the HWCOM's Department of Immunology, used magneto-electric nanoparticles (MENs) to cross the blood-brain barrier and send a significantly increased level of AZTTP—up to 97 percent more —to HIV-infected cells.

For years, the blood-brain barrier has stumped scientists and doctors who work with neurological diseases. A natural filter that allows very few substances to pass through to the brain, the blood-brain barrier keeps most medicines from reaching the brain. Currently, more than 99 percent of the used to treat HIV, such as AZTTP, are deposited in the liver, lungs and other organs before they reach the brain.

"This allows a virus, such as AIDS, to lurk unchecked," said Nair, an HIV/immunology researcher.

New technique to deliver life-saving drugs to the brain
In laboratory models, a new technique developed by researchers at FIU uses magneto-electric nanoparticles to deliver a significantly higher level of the anti-HIV drug AZTTP to the brain.

The patent-pending technique developed by FIU binds the drug to a MEN inserted into a monocyte/macrophage cell, which is then injected into the body and drawn to the brain. Once it has reached the , a low energy triggers a release of the drug, which is then guided to its target with magnetoelectricity. In lab experiments, nearly all of the therapy reached its intended target. It will soon enter the next phase of testing.

Potentially, this method of delivery could help other patients who suffer from such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, , meningitis and chronic pain. It could also be applicable to diseases such as cancer.

"We see this as a multifunctional therapy," said Khizroev, who is an electrical engineer and physicist by training.

Multi-disciplinary efforts that combine principles of those fields with immunology enabled the project to move forward.

"The success of our nanotechnology is derived from the fact that nature likes simplicity," Khizroev said.

Explore further: Potential new drugs plug brain's biological 'vacuum cleaner' and target HIV

More information:

Related Stories

HIV disrupts blood-brain barrier

June 28, 2011

HIV weakens the blood-brain barrier — a network of blood vessels that keeps potentially harmful chemicals and toxins out of the brain — by overtaking a small group of supporting brain cells, according to a new study ...

New method delivers Alzheimer's drug to the brain

March 21, 2011

( -- Oxford University scientists have developed a new method for delivering complex drugs directly to the brain, a necessary step for treating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron Disease ...

Hope for patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment

August 14, 2012

Current drug therapy for patients with HIV is unable to control the complete replication of the virus in the brain. The drugs therefore do not have any effect against the complications associated with neurocognitive impairment ...

Recommended for you

Nano-decoy lures human influenza A virus to its doom

October 25, 2016

To infect its victims, influenza A heads for the lungs, where it latches onto sialic acid on the surface of cells. So researchers created the perfect decoy: A carefully constructed spherical nanoparticle coated in sialic ...

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

October 24, 2016

Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a new method to increase the energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries. He has built a trilayer structure that ...

Nanofiber coating prevents infections of prosthetic joints

October 24, 2016

In a proof-of-concept study with mice, scientists at The Johns Hopkins University show that a novel coating they made with antibiotic-releasing nanofibers has the potential to better prevent at least some serious bacterial ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.