The intracellular drug delivery technology – details of which were published by Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University in the Journal of Controlled Release – employs nanotechnology to penetrate cells.
Researcher Ashwani Kumar told us the technology can be used to deliver a number of hydrophobic products, such as anticancer, antitubercular, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal drugs.
The nanodrills are engineered, self-assembling peptides that have a well-defined shape – or “drill-bit” – and a cell penetrating peptide over the surface.
“The self-assembling segment acts as a hydrophobic core to a variety of lipophilic small molecules and drugs which can be loaded with >90% encapsulation efficiency,” Kumar explained.
When transecting cells in-vitro, the team found the nanodrills easily entered the cells, and efficiently administered the payload.
“With different experimental techniques, we showed the presence of cell penetrating transactivator of transcription [TAT] peptide – over the surface in its native form is responsible for crossing the cell membrane.
“We also observed potent in-vivo delivery in mouse models demonstrating high localisation in liver within just two hours of IV injection,” he added.
The researchers synthesized the nanodrills using solid-phase peptide synthesis.
“This technique is manual, simple economic and scalable which does not require any specialized instruments and gives the desired peptides with good yield and purity,” Kumar explained.
To characterize the synthetic peptides, the researchers used different spectral – mass, circular dichroism, fluorescence – and microscopic analysis – atomic force microscopy – which demonstrated nanodrill morphology, he added.
According to Kumar, the technology is cost-efficient.
The manual synthesis method consumes fewer reagents than automated peptide synthesizers, he told us, adding: “We could observe the formation of nanodrills with concentration as low as 200 micro molar solution of peptides.”
The researchers have filed a provisional patent, and hope to license out the technology.