New technique to deliver HIV drug to the brain

WASHINGTON: Researchers, including an Indian origin scientist, have developed a revolutionary new technique to deliver and fully release an anti-HIV drug into the brain. 

Scientists from 
Florida International University FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine describe a new nanotechnique they have developed that can deliver and fully release the drug AZTTP into the brain. 

Madhavan Nair, professor and chair, and Sakhrat Khizroev, professor and vice chair of the HWCOMs Department of Immunology, used magneto-electric nanoparticles (MENs) to cross the blood-brain barrier and send a significantly increased level of AZTTP - up to 97 per cent more - to HIV-infected cells. 

For years, the blood-brain barrier has stumped scientists and doctors who work with neurological diseases. A natural 
filter that allows very few substances to pass through to the brain, the blood-brain barrier keeps most medicines from reaching the brain. 

Currently, more than 99 per cent of the antiretroviral therapies used to treat 
HIV, such as AZTTP, are deposited in the liver, lungs and other organs before they reach the brain. 

"This allows a virus, such as 
AIDS, to lurk unchecked," said Nair. 

The patent-pending technique developed by FIU binds the drug to a MEN inserted into a monocyte/macrophage cell, which is then injected into the body and drawn to the brain. 

Once it has reached the brain, a low energy electrical current triggers a release of the drug, which is then guided to its target with magnetoelectricity. In lab experiments, nearly all of the therapy reached its intended target. It will soon enter the next phase of testing. 

Potentially, this method of delivery could help other patients who suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, 
muscular dystrophy, meningitis and chronic pain. It could also be applicable to diseases such as cancer, researchers said. 

"We see this as a multi-functional therapy," said Khizroev.