April 14, 2024
Drug And Gene Delivery Devices

Next-generation Technologies for Targeted Drug and Gene Delivery

With the rise of precision medicine, scientists are developing novel drug and gene delivery devices to more effectively treat diseases at the molecular level. These new technologies aim to overcome longstanding challenges with conventional delivery methods by specifically targeting tissues and cells. Compared to traditional approaches, advanced delivery systems can significantly improve drug targeting and therapeutic efficacy while reducing unwanted side effects. Several cutting-edge platforms are now being explored for their potential to revolutionize how medications and gene therapies are administered.

Nanoparticle-based Delivery Systems

One of the most promising new delivery approaches utilizes engineered nanoparticles. Drugs or genes can be encapsulated within or attached to the surface of biocompatible nanoparticles ranging in size from 10-1000 nanometers. Common nanoparticle types studied for delivery include liposomes, polymeric nanoparticles, inorganic nanoparticles, virus-like particles, and exosomes. Their minuscule dimensions allow nanoparticles to bypass traditional barriers like cell membranes, infiltrate tissues more easily, and clear quickly from the body to minimize toxicity. Researchers are developing versatile nanoparticle formulations that can be tailored for targeted delivery to specific cell types. Some designs incorporate ligands on the surface to bind nanoparticle cargos to proteins overexpressed on diseased cells. Others are formulated to be responsive to triggers like pH, temperature, enzymes, or light to promote controlled drug release only after reaching the target site. Nanoparticle delivery holds great potential for advancing treatments in areas like cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disorders.

Implantable and Injectable Microdevices

Moving beyond nanoparticles, engineers are designing fully implantable or injectable microscale delivery devices Drug and gene delivery devices. These miniature systems could function autonomously within the body for sustained, programmable drug release. One example is the development of implantable chips containing arrays of microtubules loaded with medications. Exposure to triggers like temperature or light would cause the microtubule caps to disintegrate, precisely controlling drug elution over long periods. Researchers are also working on biocompatible hydrogels that solidify after injection, forming 3D scaffolds embedded with drugs or cells. The hydrogel matrix slowly degrades as it releases its payload, providing a natural biodegradable implant. Another strategy uses functionalized microparticles that can navigate to target organs or tissues after injection with the aid of magnetic or chemical guidance cues. Once deposited at the destination site, the microparticles coordinately dispense drugs or gene therapies on a preset microfluidic schedule. Physician-programmable microdevices represent an autonomous new paradigm for long-term drug administration and regeneration medicine.

Virus-Based Delivery Vectors

Among the most intensively researched vehicle for targeted gene delivery are engineered viruses. Viruses like adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, lentiviruses, and retroviruses have evolved to efficiently pass genetic payloads into host cells. Scientists are leveraging this natural ability while modifying viruses to remove pathogenic components. The resulting viral vectors can transport therapeutic genes specifically to diseased tissues, entering cells and releasing the transgene for expression. Recent efforts focus on engineering viral capsids with ligands to recognize molecular signatures on target cells. Combining tissue-specific promoters with optimized viral serotypes also regulates transgene expression locale and level. Other work enhances vector manufacturing and purification to satisfy stringent safety criteria for clinical use. Despite challenges with delivery efficiency, immunogenicity, and cargo size limitations, advances in viral engineering make them a promising option for certain inherited and acquired diseases with a genetic basis like cancer, hemophilia and muscular dystrophy.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it