(ORDO NEWS) — American scientists have assembled robots from single-celled algae, attaching antibiotic nanoparticles to them. Penetrating deep into the lungs, these “living machines” successfully cured dangerous pneumonia in experimental animals.
These days, most bacterial infections are treatable. However, this requires considerable amounts of antibiotics, which do not pass without a trace for the body itself, destroying its symbiotic microflora.
To reduce the dose of drugs, they can be targeted , precisely to the affected organ or tissue.
This is a challenge for the future, and UC San Diego professors Liangfang Zhang and Joseph Wang are working on it with some success.
Their joint team is developing microscopic robots that can do targeted drug delivery. They have previously demonstrated such systems capable of curing blood and stomach infections in laboratory animals.
And in their new work, Zhang, Wang and their colleagues presented microrobots based on living algae and immune cell membranes and showed their effectiveness in combating lung inflammation.
A harmless single-celled algae provides the system with natural mobility in the extremely humid environment of the lungs. And the scientists attached the payload to its surface.
This role was played by an antibiotic placed in microcapsules made of polymer, which quickly and safely dissolves in the body.
In addition, the researchers coated the spherical capsules with neutrophil immune cell membranes. The membranes absorb inflammatory signal molecules, making the treatment more effective.
Such systems were tested on laboratory mice infected with the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a form of pneumonia that often occurs in patients after a ventilator.
The microrobots were introduced through a tube inserted into the trachea, and within a week the disease in the animals was completely gone.
Whereas in the control group, which received no treatment, after three days there was not a single live mouse left.
Another group of surviving animals received standard antibiotic treatment and also got rid of the disease. However, for this they needed much more serious doses of drugs – about 3,000 times more than mice, in which microrobots were involved in the delivery of drugs.
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