(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists are constantly looking for new ways to deliver antibiotics that can target pathogenic bacteria without affecting beneficial microorganisms and other cells in the body.
Now they have managed to adapt our own red blood cells for this: they will become “couriers” that will deliver a potent antibiotic to the target.
Polymyxin B is one of the few antibiotics to which bacteria have not yet developed resistance. However, doctors prescribe this remedy only as a last resort, because, destroying pathogenic bacteria, the antibiotic simultaneously leads to damage to the nervous system and severely harms the kidneys.
But now, perhaps, scientists from McMaster University (Canada) will be able to neutralize the harmful effects of polymyxin B on the body thanks to its new “packaging”.
They used erythrocytes , our red blood cells, to remove all their contents and leave only the outer membrane, fill them with medicine and put them back into the bloodstream.
But how will the “surprise cells” find the bacteria they need? To do this, the researchers had to further modify the erythrocyte membrane by coating them with specific antibodies “targeted” at a specific type of pathogen.
Having reached the goal, such an erythrocyte will have to adhere to the surface of the bacterium and secrete the antibiotic.
Thanks to such an unusual “packaging”, an antibiotic harmful to the body will no longer be able to harm our own cells, and the long lifespan of red blood cells (about 120 days) will allow “surprise cells” to reach the target sooner or later and destroy it.
In addition, being inside an erythrocyte, the antibiotic will not interact with immune cells, which can consider it a dangerous toxin and decompose it.
In the future, scientists assure, the same system can be used to deliver powerful drugs to hard-to-reach parts of our body, such as the brain, protected by a blood- brain barrier that does not allow dangerous toxins to pass through.
This will allow patients suffering from, say, Alzheimer’s disease to receive treatment more quickly.
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