. Scientific Frontline: Scientists Suggest New Approach to Targeted Treatment of Bacterial Infections

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Scientists Suggest New Approach to Targeted Treatment of Bacterial Infections

Photo Source: Ural Federal University

It is based on the nanosystem with polyoxometalate

Chemists from the Ural Federal University have proposed a new approach to targeted treatment of affected areas of the human body, in particular, bacterial infections. It is based on a nanosystem, the core of which is polyoxometalate (containing molybdenum and iron). A broad-spectrum antibiotic, tetracycline, is attached to the surface of the polyoxometalate. This approach makes it possible to fight bacteria more effectively by targeting them. The results of the study are published in the journal Inorganics.

"The polyoxometalate ion is a charged nanoparticle that can be used as a base. It is very small - 2.5 nanometers. This allows it to easily penetrate cells and the walls of blood vessels. Drugs and additional substances (vector molecules) can be "planted" on it to help the system reach a specific affected organ. In this case, the drug is distributed less throughout the rest of the body. This reduces side effects, especially of highly toxic drugs," explains Margarita Tonkushina, a Researcher at the Section of Chemical Material Science and the Laboratory of Functional Design of Nanoclusters of Polyoxometalates at UrFU.

Targeted drug delivery using nanosystems has been a topic of research around the world for many years. There are many different types of carriers. They can be proteins, liposomes, biocompatible polymers. Nanoparticles based on metals (gold, platinum, silver) and metal oxides (iron, cerium) are also used. Each of these systems has advantages and disadvantages.

Scientists note that polyoxometalate, due to its charge, can be injected into the body together with the drug attached to it under the influence of an electric field. Accordingly, it is possible to deliver the drug by means of drug electrophoresis, which is an alternative to injections and drops. Often, when bacterial processes occur in organs where there are few blood vessels, or there are some barriers (for example, in the joints), doctors have to administer drugs in high doses because only a small part of it reaches the right place. Besides, injecting drugs can be painful and not always safe. Drug delivery by electrophoresis could reduce patient discomfort and increase safety. In addition, the electrode could be placed closer to the affected area, increasing the concentration of the drug locally compared to the rest of the body.

Experiments on cell cultures have shown that polyoxometalate as a base for the nanosystem could be promising for other classes of drugs, such as anticancer drugs. It is also planned to test the ability of such nanoparticles to overcome the natural barriers of immune-privileged organs (brain, eye, thymus, etc.). In the case of the brain, for example, the blood-brain barrier not only protects it from the penetration of toxic substances, but also makes it difficult for drugs to penetrate, making it difficult to treat brain diseases. In such cases, targeted delivery nanosystems can help.

The scientists plan to continue their research to eventually develop a working nanosystem.

"Ideally, we plan to use polyoxometalate to create a system for targeted delivery of all kinds of drugs. Perhaps it will have some kind of biocompatible shell on the outside so that there is no immune system reaction. Once it enters the bloodstream, the nanosystem should penetrate to the site of the lesion and release the drug. This is the dream we are working towards. The second option is to inject the nanosystem using electrophoresis," Margarita Tonkushina concludes.


The research group of chemists conducts research in cooperation with the Department of Biology and Fundamental Medicine of the Ural Federal University and the Institute of Immunology and Physiology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The chemists received funding from the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education as part of the state contract and a grant for youth laboratories under the Priority 2030 program.

Published in journalInorganics

Source/CreditUral Federal University

Reference Number: nt011823_01

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