Super-human blood for targeted delivery

Physicists hope their new ‘super-human’ red blood cells will be able to deliver drugs to specific targets within the body.

A team of physicians at McMaster University in Canada have developed what they call super human blood cells which can be used to modify red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets within the body. It’s an exciting development which could aid in the treatment of catastrophic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s [1].

Longevity.Technology: There’s a lot to be excited about with this technology. Delivery and dosage levels have always been a problem in drugs which target serious diseases such as cancer. These smart red blood cells can deliver the drug directly to the target, improving its effectiveness, reducing dosage levels and the risk of side-effects.

The technology modifies red blood cells to circulate in the system for weeks at a time seeking out specific targets which could include bacteria, organs or tumours. It solves a major problem with conventional drugs which may struggle to reach the target or be rejected by the immune system.

Researchers successfully modified the outer wall of the red blood cell and replace its contents with a drug molecule.

It looks and behaves just like a normal red blood cell, which enables it to trick the immune system. However, it has a sticky surface which allows it to attach itself to bacteria and release a drug payloads (in this case antibiotics) exactly where they need to go.

“We have combined synthetic material with biological material and created a new structure, which has never been done before in this way,” says Sebastian Himbert, lead author and a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster. “The entire process is very efficient and can be completed in one day in the lab,” he says.

The researchers believe it could improve the efficiency of drugs allowing them to reduce dosages and any potentially harmful side effects. It also increases efficacy allowing the drugs to get precisely where they need to go.

Image credit:  Arek Socha from Pixabay