Nanotechnology-based drug delivery research has largely focused on developing nanoparticles for use with drugs that are poorly soluble in water with many notable successes. Now, a team of investigators at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain has used two different sugars to create a nanoparticle that can entrap water-soluble molecules such as proteins. The researchers believe that this nanoparticle could be used to create protein drug formulations that can be taken by mouth rather than by injection or inhalation. The results of this study were published in the journal Macromolecules.
Maria Alonso, Ph.D., and colleagues used the water-soluble sugar polymers, or polysaccharides, known as chitosan (CS) and glucomannan (GM) to create the new nanoparticles. Chitosan, obtained from insect shells, is used primarily as a plant growth enhancer, while glucomannan, a plant root product, is a soluble fiber used to treat constipation and high cholesterol. By varying the relative amounts of the two polysaccharides, the researchers were able to create stable nanoparticles that could efficiently entrap proteins. Additional experiments using different forms of glucomannan and a crosslinking agent provided data that should enable the fine-tuning of the release rates of proteins from the nanoparticles.
This work is described in a paper titled, “Formation of new glucomannan-chitosan nanoparticles and study of their ability to associate and deliver proteins.” An investigator from Cantabria Pharmaceuticals in Madrid, Spain, also participated in this study. An abstract of this paper is available at the journal’s website.