Immune hematology

A researcher at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane has developed a new technology that harnesses the immune system to deliver drugs directly to infection sites within the body. Therefore Most diseases develop in local tissues within the body. That makes drug delivery challenging, because many drugs don’t have targeting properties–they simply go wherever they go. By delivering drugs to the disease site specifically, we can improve treatment while dramatically decreasing side effects.”

Immune system to deliver drugs

Zhenjia Wang; Associate Professor, WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Wang’s technology uses neutrophils–a type of white blood cells that play a key role in the body’s natural immune response– to deliver drugs directly to diseased tissue. Neutrophils make up as much as 70 percent of the white blood cells that travel through the bloodstream to help fight off bacteria; because viruses; or other pathogens that invade the body and cause inflammation in affected tissue.

Here is how that works: When inflammation occurs; the immune system releases white blood cells into the bloodstream to fend off the invading pathogens. Inside the infected tissue, inflammation triggers endothelial cells– which line the interior walls of blood vessels–to start producing molecules that stick to receptor molecules in the neutrophils; causing the two cell types to bind together and allowing the neutrophils to start fighting the infection.

Inflammation triggers endothelial

It is this interaction that allows neutrophils to home in on inflammatory sites; which makes them of interest to scientists working on targeted drug delivery. Wang’s technology takes neutrophils and removes their contents; which yields tiny hollow cell membranes that he loads up with drug molecules. The resulting neutrophil-based “nanovesicles” retain the same characteristics that cause neutrophils to seek out inflammation; which ensures that drug molecules are automatically sent to where they are needed.

And because they are made from human cell membranes, the body does not reject and eliminate them; as it does with artificially produced membranes used as part of earlier technologies, Wang said. Preliminary study data suggest that Wang’s nanovesicles could successfully treat acute lung injury, a type of respiratory failure that causes inflammation in the lungs and can progress to a more serious condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome.

There are currently no drugs available to treat acute lung injury, and about 40% of patients die. But As part of their preliminary work, Wang and his research team used a rodent model of acute lung injury to test the technology’s feasibility to deliver anti-inflammatory drugs directly to the lungs; with promising results.