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New 'high-efficiency nanoparticle’ to raise cancer cell treatment efficacy by 10 timesUNIST team develops ‘protein corona shield nanoparticle’
  • By Song Soo-youn
  • Published 2018.11.01 16:39
  • Updated 2018.11.01 18:17
  • comments 0

A Korean research team has developed the technology to wrap up drug-delivering nanoparticles with protein shields and deliver them to target cancer cells safely and efficiently.

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) said Thursday that its joint research team, led by Professors Yoo Ja-hyeong and Kim Chae-kyu of the Faculty of Science and Professor Kang Se-byeong of the Faculty of Life Science, has developed “drug carrier platform technology and material,” which works safely and efficiently in human bodies.

The existing drug carriers, when exposed to human body environment, are absorbed to hundreds of serum proteins and fail to reach cancer cells. To solve this problem, a UNIST research team has designed a drug-delivery matrix that “avoids immune cells and arrive at only cancer cells,” using new protein shields. (Credit: UNIST)

Their research results were published in the online edition of Nature Communications, an international academic journal, on the same day.

There had been many drug delivery matrixes that contain therapeutic agents and deliver them to target cells, but their treatment efficiency was low because of “protein corona phenomenon,” in which hundreds of proteins existing with human bodies cling to drug carriers. They also affected other organs to induce toxicity.

The previous drug carriers, once they are exposed to human body environment, are absorbed to hundreds of serum proteins and exposed to immune cells, failing to arrive at cancer cells. To solve this problem, the UNIST team has designed an efficient drug delivery matrix, which “avoids immune cells and arrives at only cancer cells” by using protein shields.

Researchers created protective films made from special proteins to ease protein corona phenomenon. They made recombination protein that has very stable parts and those sticking to only cancer cells, by using recombination DNA, and used them as the coat protecting drug-delivering nanoparticles.

To know whether or not the protein corona shield nanoparticle (PCSN) work in the human body environment, the researchers then created an environment similar to the human body and soaked them in it for a period. And they analyzed how effectively the protective film could block external proteins using proteomics and computer simulation, and found the efficiency rose about 10 times higher than the previous drug carriers.

Also, even if the new drug deliverer is exposed to the human body environment for a long time, it is not caught by immune cells and kills cancer cells, according to researchers.

In the test of mice with cancer cells, the new drug deliverer attacked cancer cells better while causing less toxicity compared to the existing carriers.

“It is a strategy like catching enemies using enemies – blocking proteins using proteins – and the material and technology we developed belong to this category,” Professor Yoo said. “The research results can be applied to various areas, including diagnosing and treating diseases and thermos-optic treatment, not to speak of treating cancer.”

Noting that the UNIST team plans to unveil a platform that can play more diverse roles by making different designs of recombination proteins, Yoo said, “We will approach ‘all-powerful platform,’ a long-cherished dream in the nano-treatment field, with new methods.”


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