Singapore: Two Indian scientists have developed a "gold nanovehicle" that can be used to deliver drugs specifically to diseased tissues without affecting other healthy organs, according to a recent study.
The extraordinary proof-of-concept study, published by American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in AAPS PharmSciTech journal, is a collaborative effort of Dr Subho Mozumdar of University of Delhi, and Dr Arnab De of Columbia University, USA.
The study estimates that the "cost of synthesising the nanovehicle is only about USD 1 per mg, a very cost-effective solution."
Dr De, who has been honoured with the Young Investigator Award by the American Peptide Society, explained, "The increase in the cost of the nanovehicle is marginal as small amounts of nanoparticles can have a very large surface area for attaching the drugs.
"The main reason for unwarranted side-effects of a drug is that it is very difficult to deliver the drug molecule directly to the target diseased tissue while bypassing healthy organs. Side effects of drugs are often seen on these healthy tissues."
The study shows that the nanovehicle specifically targets diseased tissue thereby reducing the side effects of the drug.
Another benefit of this is that the "therapeutic efficacy of the drug is substantially increased as the entire drug is delivered to the diseased tissue alone."
To design this nanovehicle, Dr Mozumdar, an Associate Professor of Chemistry at University of Delhi said: "We simultaneously modified the surface of the nanovehicle with drugs and tissue-specific ligands."
The "tissue-specific ligands targets the nanovehicle to the correct tissue, where the drug is then released. The nanovehicle was especially useful in delivering a model drug to the liver."
Prof Omid Farokhzad from Harvard Medical School said "targeting the drug molecule specifically to the diseased tissue without affecting the healthy tissues remains a formidable challenge. Targeted and responsive nanotechnology platforms such as those developed in this study can in principle achieve that goal in an elegant manner".
Dr De, however, has warned that the lack of toxicity does not guarantee that the nanovehicle will be non-immunogenic and additional optimisation to reduce immunogenic concerns might be necessary.