Research opens way to significant improvements for medication

International research co-authored by the University of Otago, Christchurch has unraveled a century old scientific mystery, opening the way to significant improvements in the way drugs are delivered to the body.

The research into , explains why and how this is the most abundant in blood, and will enable medication to be better targeted to the needs of individual patients. The study has recently been published in the prestigious international journal Nature Communications.

“This is an exciting development we have worked on for some time and which has just been recognised by the international pharmaceutical industry as a major advance in technology,” says Professor Stephen Brennan from the University of Otago, Christchurch.

The research in association with scientists in Norway, the UK and Novozymes Biopharma, has been awarded the premier prize for the most exciting delivery technology of the year at the Delivery Partnerships conference in the USA.

“Essentially what our research reveals is a way to develop different variants of the albumin molecule in the blood, to which many drugs bind, and which is used to transport medications around the body.”

“This means if you want a drug to remain in the body longer for greater effect, or to avoid a patient having to take so many pills or injections, you can adjust the half-life of the albumin molecule to achieve this.”

Brennan says this has major implications for better tailoring of medication to specific needs of patients. In particular albumin could be used as a carrier protein for short-lived therapeutic peptides or hormones.

At present it is difficult to determine the most beneficial dosage regimen because the albumin molecules half-life can’t be altered. This research changes all that, providing a new pathway to manipulate albumin molecules and adjust a drug’s half-life within the patient, allowing improved therapeutic effects.

Scientifically the study shows that albumin molecules, instead of dying and being absorbed by endothelial cells lining the blood vessel, actually bind to a receptor in these cells and are then recycled back into the blood stream.

“We’ve established for the first time that when the pH inside the cell vesicles drops, then albumin binds to the Fc receptor in the cell, rather like a magnet. The albumin then gets transported back to the surface of the cell, to be released once more into the blood stream to do its work.”

Professor Brennan says the discovery of this unique cellular recycling process that maintains the high volume of serum albumin in , carrying vital fatty acids, hormones and amino acids around the body, opens the possibility of adjusting albumin molecules to the requirements of specific medications.

Provided by University of Otago

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anticancer nanotech

Sep 16, 2009

Tiny particles of albumin, a protein found in the blood, can be used to carry radioactive isotopes to the site of a cancerous tumour in the body and so avoid many of the side-effects of conventional radiotherapy.

Nanoparticles harvest invisible cancer biomarkers

Nov 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cancer biologists have long presumed that tumor cells shed telltale markers into the blood and that finding these blood-borne biomarkers could provide an early indicator that cancer is developing somewhere ...

Researchers important markers of high risk of type 2 diabetes

Apr 25, 2008

Doctors are aware of a range of risk factors, mostly related to the patients’ family history, overweight, and lifestyle, that contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now researchers at the University of Warwick ...

Uric acid may provide early clues to diabetic kidney disease

Mar 18, 2008

For patients with type 1 diabetes, increased levels of uric acid in the blood may be an early sign of diabetic kidney disease—appearing before any significant change in urine albumin level, the standard screening test, ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

1 hour ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

4 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

23 hours ago

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments