Protein drugs have become ever more prevalent as treatments for a wide variety of diseases. However the drugs have always come to the market with a flaw. They may be highly specialised for their job and highly effective at doing it. However they are usually only present in the blood for a very short time reducing their effectiveness.
Queue the new findings of the Chilkoti lab at Duke University who have demonstrated that adding a poly(ethylynglycol) (PEG) chain by polymerisation to the protein drug can increase the retention of said protein in the blood. It does this by effectively increasing the proteins hydrodynamic radius making the drug bigger and therefore easier to be retained in the blood.
This new polymerisation approach of Chilkoti has overcome many previous problems of PEGylation of drugs such as problems with PEG length and placement of the polymer.
A common disease treated by protein drugs is cancers as they have leaky vessels and are therefore easy targets for these drugs. However previously the protein drugs had such short lifetimes in the blood they couldn’t accumualte efficiently in the tumours. Now with the edition of up to 20nm PEG tails Chilkoti has shown a far better drug efficiency and effect.
This is another scenario whereby the application of nanotechnology has come to the aid of medical science to overcome problems with existing techniques of drug delivery and effectiveness. – CT