Singapore nanotechnology combats fatal brain infections

Jun 28, 2009

Doctors may get a new arsenal for meningitis treatment and the war on drug-resistant bacteria and fungal infections with novel peptide nanoparticles developed by scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of Singapore and reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

The stable bioengineered nanoparticles devised at IBN effectively seek out and destroy bacteria and fungal cells that could cause fatal infections and are highly therapeutic.

Major brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis are a leading cause of death, hearing loss, and in patients.

IBN's peptide nanoparticles, on the other hand, contain a membrane-penetrating component that enables them to pass through the blood brain barrier to the infected areas of the brain that require treatment. The ability of IBN's peptide nanoparticles to traverse the blood brain barrier offers a superior alternative to existing treatments for brain infections. The brain membrane is impenetrable to most conventional antibiotics because the molecular structure of most drugs is too big to enter the membrane.

"Our treatment damages the structure of the pathogen and literally breaks it apart," said Yiyan Yang, Ph.D., group leader at IBN, one of the research institutes sponsored by Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).

"Our oligopeptide has a unique chemical structure that forms nanoparticles with membranepenetrating components on their surface," Dr. Yang added. "These nanoparticles can easily enter bacteria, yeast or fungal cells and destabilize them to cause cell death. For example, the nanoparticles cause damage to bacteria cell walls and prevent further bacterial growth."

The IBN research team has demonstrated that these engineered peptide nanoparticles have high antimicrobial activity and are highly effective in killing microbes.

Additionally, the peptide nanoparticles are more powerful in inhibiting the growth of fungal infections than conventionally available anti-fungal drugs such as fluconazole and amphotericin B.

"We are able to kill bacteria better than conventional . By attacking the cellular structure of the microbes, our nanoparticles can be used to successfully combat persistant bacterial infections," added IBN scientist Lihong Liu, Ph.D.

Pre-clinical tests have shown that IBN's peptide nanoparticles are biocompatible and cause no damage to the liver or kidneys at tested doses. Highly anti-infective, the therapeutic doses of the peptide nanoparticles are expected to be safe for use because they also do not damage red blood cells.

IBN Executive Director Jackie Y. Ying, Ph.D., said, "Our interdisciplinary research groups have made tremendous progress in finding novel drug and gene delivery avenues for medical treatments. With this peptide nanoparticle, we have found a way through the blood brain barrier and produced a treatment for previously challenging diseases."

Source: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

Explore further: Nanocontainers for nanocargo: Delivering genes and proteins for cellular imaging, genetic medicine and cancer therapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smart Nanocarriers to Combat Tumors

Apr 26, 2005

A ‘smart’ nanocarrier technology developed by a team of researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) is set to vastly improve the way cancer patients are treated.

IBN Pioneers Breakthrough Method in Nanoparticle Synthesis

Mar 10, 2005

The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed a novel method to simultaneously control the size and morphology of nanoparticles, which can be used in pharmaceutical synthesis and novel biomedical ...

Multifunctional Nanoparticles Image and Treat Brain Tumors

Dec 04, 2006

Combining two promising approaches to diagnosing and treating cancer, a multidisciplinary research team at the University of Michigan has created a targeted multifunctional polymer nanoparticle that successfully images and ...

Nanoparticles may pose threat to liver cells, say scientists

Apr 04, 2006

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are to study the effects of nanoparticles on the liver. In a UK first, the scientists will assess whether nanoparticles –already found in pollution from traffic exhaust, but also ...

Reversible 3-D cell culture gel invented

Sep 28, 2008

Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, has invented a unique user-friendly gel that can liquefy on demand, with the potential to revolutionize three-dimensional ...

Using magnetic nanoparticles to combat cancer

Jul 16, 2008

Scientists at Georgia Tech have developed a potential new treatment against cancer that attaches magnetic nanoparticles to cancer cells, allowing them to be captured and carried out of the body. The treatment, ...

Recommended for you

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

9 hours ago

Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking ...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

11 hours ago

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

The future face of molecular electronics

11 hours ago

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

wawadave
not rated yet Jun 28, 2009
This is looking very promising!