Nanoparticles Target Resistant Parasites | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 28 | p. 25 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 13, 2015

Nanoparticles Target Resistant Parasites

Pharmaceuticals: New drug formulation may improve treatment for sleeping sickness
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: neglected diseases, trypanosomiasis, nanoparticles, drug delivery
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Trypanosoma brucei parasites, such as those shown in this SEM image (purple, about 20 µm long), caused more than 7,000 human cases of sleeping sickness in 2010.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Micrograph of trypanosomiasis parasites in blood.
 
Trypanosoma brucei parasites, such as those shown in this SEM image (purple, about 20 µm long), caused more than 7,000 human cases of sleeping sickness in 2010.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Drug therapies for the parasitic infection African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, have long had problems with high toxicity. These drugs must be administered in a hospital because of the likelihood of brain swelling and other reactions. In addition, many parasite strains have developed resistance by evolving altered transport proteins that keep the drugs out of their cells. But Spanish scientists may have discovered a way to address both problems with a novel formulation of the antiparasite drug pentamidine (PLOS Pathog. 2015, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004942). By preparing a pentamidine-loaded chitosan nanoparticle that enters the parasite through endocytosis instead of through membrane transport, a team led by the University of Granada’s José A. Garcia-Salcedo was able to lower the curative dose of pentamidine in mouse models to 1% of the normal dose. Even mice infected with resistant parasite strains lived significantly longer when treated with the nanoparticles than with free pentamidine. “This is a very intriguing paper in which the formulation of an existing drug is altered to improve treatment rather than screening for new drug entities,” says tropical disease pathologist James McKerrow of the University of California, San Diego.

 
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