Scientists develop 'magic bullet' nanomedicine for Acute Lung Injury

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have devised a 'magic bullet' nanomedicine which could become the first effective treatment for Acute Lung Injury or ALI, a condition affecting 20 per cent of all patients in intensive care.

There are 15,000 cases of ALI every year in the UK. The main causes are and infections, and many with the condition die as a result of lung failure.

ALI patients can become critically ill and develop problems with breathing when their lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid. These patients frequently require ventilators to aid breathing within an ICU hospital unit. An ICU bed costs the NHS in excess of £1800 per day.

There are currently no effective treatments for this serious condition, but in a joint collaboration between the School of Pharmacy and Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen's, a team of scientists and clinicians have developed a new drug that could revolutionise of patients in intensive care units.

Their new drug is a nanoparticle, measuring around one billionth of a metre. The patient can inhale it, taking the drug directly into the lungs and to the point of inflammation. Current treatments are unable to target directly the inflammation and can result in unpleasant side effects.

Speaking about the development, Professor Chris Scott from the School of Pharmacy, who is leading the research, said: " are perhaps one of the most exciting new approaches to drug development. Most research in the area focuses on how the delivery of drugs to the disease site can be improved in these minute carriers. Our own research in this area focuses on how nanoparticles interact with cells and how this can be exploited to produce therapeutic effects both in respiratory disease and cancer."

The new nanoparticle from Queen's has a surface which allows it to recognize and bind to called macrophages in the lungs - key to the uncontrolled inflammation that occurs in ALI. This binding induces a rapid reduction in the inflammation, and has the potential to prevent the damaging effects that will otherwise occur in the lungs of ALI patients.

The project is developing the new nanomedicine towards clinical evaluation within the next three years, and is currently sponsored by a £505,000 grant for two years from the Medical Research Council Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme.

Professor Danny McAuley from the Centre for Infection and Immunity, a partner in developing the new nanomedicine, added:

"This funding allows us to evaluate a completely novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of ALI and if successful, this could also have application in other common lung disorders such as COPD and Cystic Fibrosis."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New drug target found for cystic fibrosis lung disease

Nov 07, 2012

Vancouver researchers have discovered the cellular pathway that causes lung-damaging inflammation in cystic fibrosis (CF), and that reducing the pathway's activity also decreases inflammation. The finding offers a potential ...

PTSD symptoms common among ICU survivors

Feb 26, 2013

One in three people who survived stays in an intensive care unit (ICU) and required use of a mechanical ventilator showed substantial post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that lasted for up to two years, according ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

Aug 20, 2014

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

Aug 20, 2014

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments