Further investigation has to be conducted before this method can be used in human patients.
In a recent trial, researchers utilized human white blood cell membranes to carry an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory directly to the lungs of mice that had an infection. The scientists employed a nano-sized method of drug delivery to treat bacterial growth and inflammation in the mice’s lungs.
The study, published in Communications Biology, used a novel method of therapeutic delivery that was created at Washington State University. The delivery takes neutrophils, which are a common type of white blood cell, and peels their membrane. Once the membrane is successfully stripped and emptied, they can fill them with medicine, essentially turning them into nanovesicles. The cells retain much of their original property and when injected, travel directly to an inflamed area and attack the infection.
The researchers filled the nanovesicles with an antibiotic and the anti-inflammatory resolvinD1, which is derived from Omega 3 fatty acids. These drugs were introduced to mice’s lungs to treat a common pathogen found in hospital settings that can be potentially fatal. Two drugs were implemented instead of one because an infection in the lungs poses two different threats, the infection itself and inflammation caused by the immune systems response.
"If a doctor simply gives two drugs to a patient, they don't go directly to the lungs. They circulate in the whole body, so potentially there's a lot of toxicity," Zhenjia Wang, a corresponding author on the study said. "Instead, we can load the two types of drugs into these vesicles that specifically target the lung inflammation."
The findings from the study demonstrate that there is a potential for this strategy to aid in treating infectious diseases. The authors suggest that If the method is eventually proven to be safe for humans, the nanovesicles could be loaded with any type of drugs, including ones to treat COVID-19.
"I think it's possible to translate this technology to help treat COVID-19," Wang said. "COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial pathogen, but it also causes an inflammation response in the lung, so we could load an antiviral drug like remdesivir into the nanovesicle, and it would target that inflammation."