Algae powered by nanoparticles fights deadly pneumonia

Algae powered by nanoparticles fights deadly pneumonia

The miracles of modern medicine strike again: Scientists have created a modified version of algae capable of carrying tiny capsules filled with antibiotics into mice’s bodies to fight deadly lung infections. The results help raise hopes that a similar treatment could one day treat critically ill human patients with the same type of bacterial infection.

The key to this work lies in nanoparticles that deliver drugs, which are tens to tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a single hair. Researchers at the University of California San Diego found that their nanoparticle-infused algae was able to fight off pneumonia infections in mice and allow them to survive for several weeks after treatment — in stark contrast to untreated mice that died within three days. The team’s work was published on Thursday in nature materials.

Ironically, the effectiveness of antibiotics is limited by the body’s metabolism and immune system. When we take pills by mouth or receive intravenous antibiotics, these drugs initiate a journey to get to where you need to go. They must cross many barriers and membranes, all while evading detection by patrolling cells. The UCSF researchers wanted to use the nanoparticles to give antibiotics a shortcut to the site of infection. It is sized with a coating to mimic a type of immune cell that would give a safe passage to the drugs hidden inside.

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“By intravenous injection, sometimes a very small portion of the antibiotic gets into the lungs,” said Victor Nisette, co-author of the study and a pharmaceutical researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, in a news release. This is why patients who are very ill die of pneumonia, even with antibiotic treatment. This nanoparticle therapy has the potential to eradicate these deadly bacteria and save patients’ lives, Nisette said.

The researchers’ nanoparticles can’t move on their own — they need some help getting around the body, as well as avoiding being taken over by the body’s immune system. So the scientists fused the tiny capsules filled with drugs into a type of single-celled green algae, and let the swimmers detach in the windpipes of 12 infected mice. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a disgusting bacterial pneumonia. The algae were able to evade capture by immune cells called macrophages by swimming away and heading instead to sites of infection—and avoiding being ingested by macrophages like self-contained nanoparticles.

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All 12 mice given the mixture of algae and nanoparticles survived after 30 days, while the untreated mice died within three days. To boot, this new method outperformed the intravenous treatment of the same antibiotic given at an equal concentration; He took an intravenous dose with 3000 times the antibiotic to produce the same effects.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the nanoparticles and algae had no harmful effects on mice cells and degraded after the antibiotics were released. “Nothing toxic was left,” study co-author Joseph Wang and a nanoengineering researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a press release.

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Scientists are currently conducting further research on how the duo of algae and nanoparticles interact with the immune systems of living organisms. Ultimately, they hope to turn the treatment into a life-saving treatment for ICU patients. That is, if people could get the idea of ​​injecting tiny algae into their lungs.

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About the Author: Omar Dzaki Khawarizmi