RBC-hitchhiking Seeks to Make Targeted Drug Delivery More Effective

Published Date : Aug 02, 2018

Researchers have found that a new drug-delivery method which uses red blood cells for transporting nano-sized drug carriers, called RBC-hitchhiking (RH), significantly increases the concentration of drugs transported to selected target organs in animal models. The detailed research study has been published in the Nature Communication journal by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

The study indicates new ways of improving the delivery of drugs for some of the most threatening diseases that the mankind faces today, including stroke, acute lung disease, and heart attack. According to the researchers behind the study, the main reason why a large variety of drugs fail to show the expected result is because they disperse throughout the body, accumulating in nearby organs where they are not required and can lead to grave side effects. Targeted drug delivery methodology, in contrast to this, work by directly targeting only the organs or areas that really require the drugs.

By increasing the concentration of the drugs that are being delivered to the specific areas, the RBC-Hitchhiking method can bring down the potential side effects of drugs to other undesirable locations and bring about improvements in the efficiency of the drugs that are delivered to the targeted locations and tissues. The team demonstrated that the RH method can be used to safely transport nano-sized drug carriers to the specified organs in pigs, mice, and ex vivo human lungs, without leading to organ or RBC toxicities.

The researchers chose RBCs as drug carriers owing to their biocompatibility and the fact that they are safer options for transfusions. In the research, it was found that when RH drug carriers were intravenously injected, the drug uptake in the lungs increased by nearly 40 times as compared to the uptake in case of freely circulating drug carriers in the blood. Thus the method carries significant potential in developing better treatment methods for treating a number of diseases.