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MEDITRANS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 26668
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Netherlands

Nanomedicine moves a step closer to reality

European scientists paved the way for novel drug carriers based on nanomaterials. This revolutionary technology boasts controlled and targeted drug release, and therapeutic efficacy in various pre-clinical disease models.
Nanomedicine moves a step closer to reality
Nanoscience has lent its materials to medicine, giving rise to the exciting field of nanomedicine. The use of nanoparticles endowed with targeting specificities promises to improve the delivery, tissue distribution and safety of drugs compared to standard methods.

The main objective of the EU-funded ‘Targeted delivery of nanomedicine’ (Meditrans) project was to design materials suitable for drug delivery, focusing on inflammatory diseases and cancer. Project partners tested various emerging nanocarrier materials, like fullerenes and nanotubes, as well as existing candidate materials, like polymeric micelles, iron oxide nanoparticles, amino acid-based nanovesicles and liposomes.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) of a few hundred nanometres in size were successfully modified for delivery of small interference RNA molecules (siRNA) and other compounds. Part of the Meditrans initiative concentrated on the stability of these novel nanocarriers and their association and dissociation potential in biological fluids. For this purpose, fluorescence spectroscopy and confocal microscopy were used to track down and study particle localisation.

Following optimisation of the binding of nanoparticles and drug release in target cells, scientists wished to quantitate drug availability through 'smart' probes. These highly sensitive optical imaging probes facilitated the localisation of nanocomplexes, enabling the monitoring of drug delivery processes, the levels of drugs or specific biomarkers within the pathological region and their therapeutic effects.

Meditrans successfully proved the principle of the nanoparticle drug delivery system as a therapeutic intervention in various pre-clinical animal models of inflammatory diseases. Safety pharmacology tests which included pharmacokinetic, biodistribution and toxicology studies gave the green light for some of these nanomedicines to be applied in clinical practice.

Although many activities are necessary to bring nanoparticle-based products to the patient, the Meditrans project demonstrated the efficacy of targeted nanomedicines for various diseases. Implementation of this technology for drug administration offers precise drug targeting and reduced side-effects caused by systemic toxicity.

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