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Living human cells produce natural capsules for better diagnosis, drug delivery

June 16, 2011 - Washington

For the first time, scientists have used living human cells to produce natural capsules with channels for releasing drugs and diagnostic agents so that it can reach diseased parts of the body.

Dayang Wang and colleagues have explained that the human body is very efficient at getting rid of foreign substances. Some foreign substances, such as viruses, are harmful and should be removed. But the body also considers drugs and nanoparticles - meant to treat diseases and allow physicians to see cells and organs - to be foreign objects, and they are also quickly removed.

To help these substances stay in the body longer, scientists have tried to fool it by encapsulating these substances in coatings that more closely resemble natural cells. Wang and colleagues then made a better capsule - by using living cells as an "invisibility cloak".

Because the group's so-called "cell membrane capsules" (CMCs) were made from real living cells, they tricked the body into thinking they were supposed to be there. Thus, drugs and nanoparticles inside CMCs stayed in the body much longer than those inside other encapsulation materials.

"Hence the CMCs provide the first intrinsically biocompatible and functional drug delivery and release vehicles," said the researchers.

The report has been published in ACS' journal Nano Letters.


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