A technology has been developed for chemotherapy applications using Red Blood Cell (RBC) membrane by a research group at IIT Delhi’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering (CBME). The technology is a significant success in achieving personalised therapy as it can be based on the RBC membrane of patient, thereby minimising the side-effects.
The research work by Prof Neetu Singh (lead researcher) and Sahil Malhotra from the Centre for Biomedical Engineering was recently published in Acta Biomaterialia and is inspired by nature’s own delivery vehicle – the RBCs, and utilises its long circulating nature to address a long standing problem of drug delivery of substantially prolonged drug circulation by delaying the recognition by immune cells.
The technology involves engineering the RBCs in the lab to produce smaller (nano sized) biocompatible vesicles. Drug molecules can simply be trapped inside the particle’s lipid bilayer and circulate for a longer time. This work was validated in an animal system by Prof Neetu Singh’s lab in collaboration with Prof Sujata Mohanty from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
Currently, few synthetic nanoparticles being used in nanomedicine suffer from short circulation times and are often associated with non-specific toxicity.
“The concept here utilises body’s own cells to load multiple drugs at the same time and reach tumor sites in significant concentrations. Interestingly, this nano-RBCs platform has synthetic tunability similar to other polymeric systems or the commonly used liposomes but have proved to be more efficacious”, Prof Neetu Singh, CBME, IIT Delhi mentioned.
Speaking about the project, Singh further stated, “We were intrigued by nature’s own oxygen delivery vehicle, the RBCs, as these are also the longest circulating cells. However, achieving complete control over the physical and chemical properties of a natural systems similar to the way we can control a synthetic system is challenging. Over the last few years, we have successfully demonstrated the utilisation of RBCs for drug delivery and developed strategies where the naturally derived vesicles can be tuned for various applications.”