Red Blood Cells Made Into Drug Delivery Devices

Many of the existing diseases that strike us are poorly treated not because effective drugs don’t exist, but because there’s no reliable way of delivering the drugs to their intended destinations. Anyone following this publication will be familiar with the dozens of types of synthetic vessel that scientists have created to ferry drugs to tumors, infections, and other disease sites. These tend to be suspicious to the immune system and often end up not functioning inside the body as expected.

Now, researchers at McMaster University in Canada have developed a way of emptying red blood cells, filling them with drugs, attaching a homing mechanism, and sending them out to find specific targets. “We call these super-human red blood cells,” said Maikel Rheinstädter, a senior advisor on the study, in a press release. “We think that they could work as the perfect stealth drug carriers which can outsmart our immune system.”

To make this possible, the team modified the surface of red blood cells to make them attracted and stick to certain tissues, organs, or bacteria. In the process, they were able to replace the molecular insides of the red blood cells with drug compounds and to reconstruct the cell membranes so they again seem like normal blood cells. These modified cell constructs can then be injected into the body without triggering an immune response.

“We have combined synthetic material with biological material and created a new structure, which has never been done before in this way,” said Sebastian Himbert, lead author of the study.

Here’s a McMaster University video describing the research:

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Study in journal Advanced Biosystems: Hybrid Erythrocyte Liposomes: Functionalized Red Blood Cell Membranes for Molecule Encapsulation

Via: McMaster University

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