Comparing current medical practice to that of the previous century, there were not so many advances in the treatment of previously incurable diseases. Many new drugs have been developed to treat complex diseases effectively, but some of them have serious side effects.
Conversely, some of the medications have shown to be highly successful in vitro but are unable to resist endogenous enzymes present in the gastrointestinal (if taken orally). Despite significant progress in discovering drug targets, designing and producing improved drug molecules, there is still room for the up-gradation in terms of targeting and drug delivery systems. Nanotechnology, especially the manufacturing of nano-medicine, has attracted unprecedented interest in drug delivery at the specified diseased targeted sites.
Nano-medicine for the targeted delivery
Nano-medicine and nano-delivery systems are quite new but rapidly progressing science in which nanoscale materials are used to deliver therapeutic agents to specific targets in a controlled manner as diagnostic instruments. Nanotechnology provides a number of advantages in the treatment of chronic human disorders by allowing precisely targeted drugs to be delivered to targeting locations.
There have been many notable applications of nano-medicine (immunotherapeutic agents, biological agents, chemotherapeutic agents, and so on) in the treatment of different diseases during recent years. Recently, targeted delivery to tumors has received a lot of attention because there’s a lot of hope that these can be cured to a greater extent and rapidly with nanotechnology-based delivery systems.
Numerous nanostructures have been developed as a result of the advancement in nanotechnology; different terms have been used to describe these nanoparticles, including nanotube, nano warm, nanocarrier, nanorod, nano vehicles, nanodisc, and nanosystem.
Alternate to traditionally formulated drugs
Traditional drug formulations (for example, oral powders or pills, intravenous injection solutions or emulsions) are intended to increase therapeutic agent bioavailability in the body. Whether taken orally or intravenously, are not always formulated in the best possible formulation for each of the product.
To improve the effectiveness and protecting from unnecessary degradation, products containing nucleic acid or protein need a more innovational form of carrier system. It’s worth noting that the effectiveness of most drug delivery systems is proportional to particle size (excluding solution and intravenous).
Contrarily, Targeted nano-medicine delivery focuses on improving the drug’s bio-distribution to the affected organ (i.e. intestine) while lowering the systemic partition of the targeted medicine.
Targeted nano-medicine have a number of benefits over conventional drugs, including smaller size better bio-distribution in particular tissues, improved disease effectiveness, and offers less adverse effects on healthy organs. Because of these benefits, delivery of the target specific nano-medicine is especially useful for the treatment of chronic diseases, since it can avoid the cumulative side effects of traditional drugs over time. As a result, they are an excellent drug delivery mechanism for chronic inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
How Nano-medicine target the diseased site
Active or passive delivery are used to achieve targeted delivery.
- Active targeting can be achieved in a way that the carrier system or therapeutic agent must be conjugated to a tissue or cell-specific ligand. Targeting ligands are bound at the surface of the nano-carrier in active targeting to bind to suitable receptors expressed at the target site. A ligand of specific chemistry has been chosen so that it binds to a receptor that is overexpressed by tumor vessels or tumor cells but not by normal cells.
- Furthermore, targeted receptors should also demonstrate uniformly across all targeted cells. Various studies have shown that active targeting nanoparticles are more effective at enhancing drug accumulation in cancer cells and that is why they play a vital role not only in modern cancer chemotherapy but in traditional/herbal cancer treatment as well.
- In passive targeting, therapeutic agent is integrated into a macromolecule or nanoparticle (Nano-carrier) that is passively delivered to the target organ. Through the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, drugs coupled to macromolecules or drugs encapsulated in nanoparticles may passively target tumors. EPR effect is quickly becoming the gold standard in the development of cancer-targeting drugs. In fact, this effect is used as a guiding principle in all nano-carriers.
Nano technological approaches to drug distribution and medicine have paved new paths and opened several doors in terms of offering more customizable and safer care options. Targeted nano-delivery systems hold great potential to overcome some of the barriers for effectively targeting a variety of cell types. This offers a sensational opportunity to resolve drug resistance in target cells while also facilitating drug transport through barriers.
About the Author:
MS Industrial Biotechnology from NUST Islamabad. Writer and a Social worker, working for the better vision of a Pakistani Society.