Nanoparticles Help Antimalarial Drugs Go The Distance

Porous silica nanoparticles allow the controlled release of antimalarial drugs over a span of more than a week, leading to better treatment outcomes.

AsianScientist (Mar. 27, 2018) – Scientists in Japan have developed a porous nano-capsule made of silica for the controlled delivery of antimalarial drugs. Their findings are published in Scientific Reports.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by a parasitic microorganism transmitted in the saliva of Anopheles mosquitoes. The existing treatment for malaria is taken orally and has three main problems. Firstly, most antimalarial drugs are broken down in the stomach. Secondly, the drugs have strong side effects. Last but not least, the medicine stays in the body for only a short time. These three factors limit the efficacy of antimalarial treatments.

Drug delivery systems (DDSs) control when and how much drugs are delivered to the body. Numerous DDS studies have been conducted, but most have focused on treatments for cancer.

In this study, a team of scientists led by Professor Shinya Hayami from Kumamoto University, Japan, used a DDS to treat malaria. They developed a nanoporous silica capsule which they called MCM-41. The material has pores of 2-30 nanometers that can accommodate drugs.

The researchers combined the antimalarial drugs artesunate and quinine with MCM-41 and performed in vitro and in vivo experiments. They found that the release time of the antimalarial drugs spanned at least one week. Moreover, compared to the oral administration of artesunate or quinine, the DDS approach increased treatment efficiency by 20 and 240 times respectively in animal experiments.

The scientists also showed that MCM-41 itself is non-toxic and inactive. Thus, a DDS using MCM-41 is expected to have very weak side effects.

“Using this DDS for antimalarial drugs has introduced a new possibility for highly efficient malaria treatment,” said Hayami. “We expect that it will be put to practical use in areas where malaria treatment is still necessary. Now, we are planning to develop clinical trials for antimalarial drugs as well as new DDSs for other drugs, like anti-HIV medications.”

The article can be found at: Amolegbe et al. (2018) Mesoporous Silica Nanocarriers Encapsulated Antimalarials with High Therapeutic Performance.


Source: Kumamoto University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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