Researchers at the University of Queensland are using nano-engineered oil droplets to target infectious diseases and cancer cells.
The UQ Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology researchers say the droplets, called nanoemulsions, can effectively target diseased cells and provoke specific immune responses.
The nanoemulsions carry antibodies and protein and can generate an immune response against infectious diseases such as influenza, HIV and malaria.
A paper on the development has been published in the international journal SMALL
Researcher Dr Frank Sainbury said the journal paper provided proof of the precise targeting that could be achieved by nanoemulsions.
He said it addressed challenges with existing targeted therapies, such as limited drug-carrying capacity and difficulty of manufacture.
An ability to target specific cells gives the emulsion the potential to overcome side-effects of broad-spectrum treatments such as chemotherapy, which attacks healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.
Dr Sainsbury said the nanoemulsion could hold antibodies, releasing them only when targeted cells were found.
“This is about efficient targeting,” he said.
“Nanoemulsions have a long, safe history in pharmaceutical formulations.
The research is a collaboration between Professor Anton Middelberg’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology research group; UQ’s Diamantina Institute; The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; and the Burnet Institute’s Centre for Immunology.
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