DONATE

Publications

by Keyword: target

Woythe L, Porciani D, Harzing T, van Veen S, Burke DH, Albertazzi L, (2023). Valency and affinity control of aptamer-conjugated nanoparticles for selective cancer cell targeting Journal Of Controlled Release 355, 228-237

Nanoparticles (NPs) are commonly functionalized using targeting ligands to drive their selective uptake in cells of interest. Typical target cell types are cancer cells, which often overexpress distinct surface receptors that can be exploited for NP therapeutics. However, these targeted receptors are also moderately expressed in healthy cells, leading to unwanted off-tumor toxicities. Multivalent interactions between NP ligands and cell receptors have been investigated to increase the targeting selectivity towards cancer cells due to their non-linear response to receptor density. However, to exploit the multivalent effect, multiple variables have to be considered such as NP valency, ligand affinity, and cell receptor density. Here, we synthesize a panel of aptamer-functionalized silica-supported lipid bilayers (SSLB) to study the effect of valency, aptamer affinity, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) density on targeting specificity and selectivity. We show that there is an evident interplay among those parameters that can be tuned to increase SSLB selectivity towards high-density EGFR cells and reduce accumulation at non-tumor tissues. Specifically, the combination of high-affinity aptamers and low valency SSLBs leads to increased high-EGFR cell selectivity. These insights provide a better understanding of the multivalent interactions of NPs with cells and bring the nanomedicine field a step closer to the rational design of cancer nanotherapeutics.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: Aptamer avidity and affinity, Multivalency, Nanoparticle targeting, Silica-supported lipid bilayers, Tumor targeting


Tonelli M, Catto M, Sabaté R, Francesconi V, Laurini E, Pricl S, Pisani L, Miniero DV, Liuzzi GM, Gatta E, Relini A, Gavín R, Del Rio JA, Sparatore F, Carotti A, (2023). Thioxanthenone-based derivatives as multitarget therapeutic leads for Alzheimer's disease European Journal Of Medicinal Chemistry 250, 115169

A set of twenty-five thioxanthene-9-one and xanthene-9-one derivatives, that were previously shown to inhibit cholinesterases (ChEs) and amyloid β (Aβ40) aggregation, were evaluated for the inhibition of tau protein aggregation. All compounds exhibited a good activity, and eight of them (5-8, 10, 14, 15 and 20) shared comparable low micromolar inhibitory potency versus Aβ40 aggregation and human acetylcholinesterase (AChE), while inhibiting human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) even at submicromolar concentration. Compound 20 showed outstanding biological data, inhibiting tau protein and Aβ40 aggregation with IC50 = 1.8 and 1.3 μM, respectively. Moreover, at 0.1-10 μM it also exhibited neuroprotective activity against tau toxicity induced by okadoic acid in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, that was comparable to that of estradiol and PD38. In preliminary toxicity studies, these interesting results for compound 20 are somewhat conflicting with a narrow safety window. However, compound 10, although endowed with a little lower potency for tau and Aβ aggregation inhibition additionally demonstrated good inhibition of ChEs and rather low cytotoxicity. Compound 4 is also worth of note for its high potency as hBChE inhibitor (IC50 = 7 nM) and for the three order of magnitude selectivity versus hAChE. Molecular modelling studies were performed to explain the different behavior of compounds 4 and 20 towards hBChE. The observed balance of the inhibitory potencies versus the relevant targets indicates the thioxanthene-9-one derivatives as potential MTDLs for AD therapy, provided that the safety window will be improved by further structural variations, currently under investigation.Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Ache and bche inhibition, Alzheimer's disease, Aβ and tau aggregation inhibition, Multitarget-directed ligands (mtdls), Thioxanthene-9-one and xanthen-9-one derivatives


San Anselmo, María, Lantero, Elena, Avalos-Padilla, Yunuen, Bouzón-Arnáiz, Inés, Ramírez, Miriam, Postigo, Alejandro, Serrano, José Luis, Sierra, Teresa, Hernández-Ainsa, Silvia, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, (2023). Heparin-Coated Dendronized Hyperbranched Polymers for Antimalarial Targeted Delivery Acs Applied Polymer Materials 5, 381-390

Woythe L, Tholen MME, Rosier BJHM, Albertazzi L, (2023). Single-Particle Functionality Imaging of Antibody-Conjugated Nanoparticles in Complex Media Acs Applied Bio Materials 6, 171-181

The properties of nanoparticles (NPs) can change upon contact with serum components, occluding the NP surface by forming a biomolecular corona. It is believed that targeted NPs can lose their functionality due to this biological coating, thus losing specificity and selectivity toward target cells and leading to poor therapeutic efficiency. A better understanding of how the biomolecular corona affects NP ligand functionality is needed to maintain NP targeting capabilities. However, techniques that can quantify the functionality of NPs at a single-particle level in a complex medium are limited and often laborious in sample preparation, measurement, and analysis. In this work, the influence of serum exposure on the functionality of antibody-functionalized NPs was quantified using a straightforward total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy method and evaluated in cell uptake studies. The single-particle resolution of TIRF reveals the interparticle functionality heterogeneity and the substantial differences between NPs conjugated with covalent and noncovalent methods. Notably, only NPs covalently conjugated with a relatively high amount of antibodies maintain their functionality to a certain extent and still showed cell specificity and selectivity toward high receptor density cells after incubation in full serum. The presented study emphasizes the importance of single-particle functional characterization of NPs in complex media, contributing to the understanding and design of targeted NPs that retain their cell specificity and selectivity in biologically relevant conditions.

JTD Keywords: binding, biomolecular corona, cell selectivity, heterogeneity, nanoparticle conjugation, protein corona, tirf microscopy, Active targeting, Biomolecular corona, Cell selectivity, Heterogeneity, Nanoparticle conjugation, Tirf microscopy


Roca, C, Avalos-Padilla, Y, Prieto-Simon, B, Iglesias, V, Ramirez, M, Imperial, S, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). Selection of an Aptamer against the Enzyme 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate Reductoisomerase from Plasmodium falciparum Pharmaceutics 14, 2515

The methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for malaria parasites and also for several human pathogenic bacteria, thus representing an interesting target for future antimalarials and antibiotics and for diagnostic strategies. We have developed a DNA aptamer (D10) against Plasmodium falciparum 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR), the second enzyme of this metabolic route. D10 binds in vitro to recombinant DXR from P. falciparum and Escherichia coli, showing at 10 mu M a ca. 50% inhibition of the bacterial enzyme. In silico docking analysis indicates that D10 associates with DXR in solvent-exposed regions outside the active center pocket. According to fluorescence confocal microscopy data, this aptamer specifically targets in P. falciparum in vitro cultures the apicoplast organelle where the MEP pathway is localized and is, therefore, a highly specific marker of red blood cells parasitized by Plasmodium vs. naive erythrocytes. D10 is also selective for the detection of MEP+ bacteria (e.g., E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) vs. those lacking DXR (e.g., Enterococcus faecalis). Based on these results, we discuss the potential of DNA aptamers in the development of ligands that can outcompete the performance of the well-established antibody technology for future therapeutic and diagnostic approaches.

JTD Keywords: 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase, Apicoplast, Dna aptamers, Drug targets, Evolution, Inhibitors, Isoprenoid biosynthesis, Malaria, Methyl erythritol phosphate pathway, Pathway, Plasmodium, Protein-protein, Web server


Solomon M, Loeck M, Silva-Abreu M, Moscoso R, Bautista R, Vigo M, Muro S, (2022). Altered blood-brain barrier transport of nanotherapeutics in lysosomal storage diseases Journal Of Controlled Release 349, 1031-1044

Treatment of neurological lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) are limited because of impermeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to macromolecules. Nanoformulations targeting BBB transcytosis are being explored, but the status of these routes in LSDs is unknown. We studied nanocarriers (NCs) targeted to the transferrin receptor (TfR), ganglioside GM1 or ICAM1, associated to the clathrin, caveolar or cell adhesion molecule (CAM) routes, respectively. We used brain endothelial cells and mouse models of acid sphingomyelinase-deficient Niemann Pick disease (NPD), and postmortem LSD patients' brains, all compared to respective controls. NC transcytosis across brain endothelial cells and brain distribution in mice were affected, yet through different mechanisms. Reduced TfR and clathrin expression were found, along with decreased transcytosis in cells and mouse brain distribution. Caveolin-1 expression and GM1 transcytosis were also reduced, yet increased GM1 levels seemed to compensate, providing similar NC brain distribution in NPD vs. control mice. A tendency to lower NHE-1 levels was seen, but highly increased ICAM1 expression in cells and human brains correlated with increased transcytosis and brain distribution in mice. Thus, transcytosis-related alterations in NPD and likely other LSDs may impact therapeutic access to the brain, illustrating the need for these mechanistic studies.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: acid sphingomyelinase, antibody-affinity, blood -brain barrier, drug-delivery, icam-1-targeted nanocarriers, in-vivo, mediated endocytosis, model, neurological diseases, niemann-pick, targeted nanocarriers, trafficking, transcytosis pathways, Blood-brain barrier, Central-nervous-system, Lysosomal storage disorders, Neurological diseases, Targeted nanocarriers, Transcytosis pathways


Roki, Nikša, Solomon, Melani, Bowers, Jessica, Getts, Lori, Getts, Robert C., Muro, Silvia, (2022). Tuning Design Parameters of ICAM-1-Targeted 3DNA Nanocarriers to Optimize Pulmonary Targeting Depending on Drug Type Pharmaceutics 14, 1496

3DNA holds promise as a carrier for drugs that can be intercalated into its core or linked to surface arms. Coupling 3DNA to an antibody targeting intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) results in high lung-specific biodistributions in vivo. While the role of individual parameters on ICAM-1 targeting has been studied for other nanocarriers, it has never been examined for 3DNA or in a manner capable of revealing the hierarchic interplay among said parameters. In this study, we used 2-layer vs. 4-layer anti-ICAM 3DNA and radiotracing to examine biodistribution in mice. We found that, below saturating conditions and within the ranges tested, the density of targeting antibodies on 3DNA is the most relevant parameter driving lung targeting over liver clearance, compared to the number of antibodies per carrier, total antibody dose, 3DNA dose, 3DNA size, or the administered concentration, which influenced the dose in organs but not the lung specific-over-liver clearance ratio. Data predicts that lung-specific delivery of intercalating (core loaded) drugs can be tuned using this biodistribution pattern, while that of arm-linked (surface loaded) drugs requires a careful parametric balance because increasing anti-ICAM density reduces the number of 3DNA arms available for drug loading.

JTD Keywords: acid sphingomyelinase, antibody, carrier design parameters, carriers, dna nanostructures, doxorubicin, drug type, icam-1, inflammation, lung targeting, multiparametric hierarchy, nanoparticles, size, 3dna nanocarrier, Intracellular delivery


Varea, Olga, Guinovart, Joan J, Duran, Jordi, (2022). Malin restoration as proof of concept for gene therapy for Lafora disease Brain Commun 4, fcac168

Abstract Lafora disease is a fatal neurodegenerative childhood dementia caused by loss-of-function mutations in either the laforin or malin gene. The hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of abnormal glycogen aggregates known as Lafora bodies (LBs) in the brain and other tissues. These aggregates are responsible for the pathological features of the disease. As a monogenic disorder, Lafora disease is a good candidate for gene therapy-based approaches. However, most patients are diagnosed after the appearance of the first symptoms and thus when LBs are already present in the brain. In this context, it was not clear whether the restoration of a normal copy of the defective gene (either laforin or malin) would prove effective. Here we evaluated the effect of restoring malin in a malin-deficient mouse model of Lafora disease as a proof of concept for gene replacement therapy. To this end, we generated a malin-deficient mouse in which malin expression can be induced at a certain time. Our results reveal that malin restoration at an advanced stage of the disease arrests the accumulation of LBs in brain and muscle, induces the degradation of laforin and glycogen synthase bound to the aggregates, and ameliorates neuroinflammation. These results identify malin restoration as the first therapeutic strategy to show effectiveness when applied at advanced stages of Lafora disease.

JTD Keywords: accumulation, gene therapy, glycogen, lafora disease, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, neurons, targets, Carbohydrate-binding domain, Glycogen


Biosca, A, Ramirez, M, Gomez-Gomez, A, Lafuente, A, Iglesias, V, Pozo, OJ, Imperial, S, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). Characterization of Domiphen Bromide as a New Fast-Acting Antiplasmodial Agent Inhibiting the Apicoplastidic Methyl Erythritol Phosphate Pathway Pharmaceutics 14, 1320

The evolution of resistance by the malaria parasite to artemisinin, the key component of the combination therapy strategies that are at the core of current antimalarial treatments, calls for the urgent identification of new fast-acting antimalarials. The apicoplast organelle is a preferred target of antimalarial drugs because it contains biochemical processes absent from the human host. Fosmidomycin is the only drug in clinical trials targeting the apicoplast, where it inhibits the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here, we characterized the antiplasmodial activity of domiphen bromide (DB), another MEP pathway inhibitor with a rapid mode of action that arrests the in vitro growth of Plasmodium falciparum at the early trophozoite stage. Metabolomic analysis of the MEP pathway and Krebs cycle intermediates in 20 mu M DB-treated parasites suggested a rapid activation of glycolysis with a concomitant decrease in mitochondrial activity, consistent with a rapid killing of the pathogen. These results present DB as a model compound for the development of new, potentially interesting drugs for future antimalarial combination therapies.

JTD Keywords: Antibiotics, Antimalarial drugs, Antimalarial-drug, Artemisinin, Combination therapies, Domiphen bromide, Intraerythrocytic stages, Isoprenoid biosynthesis, Malaria, Methyl erythritol phosphate pathway, Nonmevalonate pathway, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium-falciparum apicoplast, Red-blood-cells, Targeted delivery


Martí D, Martín-Martínez E, Torras J, Betran O, Turon P, Alemán C, (2022). In silico study of substrate chemistry effect on the tethering of engineered antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 detection: Amorphous silica vs gold Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 213, 112400

The influence of the properties of different solid substrates on the tethering of two antibodies, IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, which were specifically engineered for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, has been examined at the molecular level using conventional and accelerated Molecular Dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively). Two surfaces with very different properties and widely used in immunosensors for diagnosis, amorphous silica and the most stable facet of the face-centered cubic gold structure, have been considered. The effects of such surfaces on the structure and orientation of the immobilized antibodies have been determined by quantifying the tilt and hinge angles that describe the orientation and shape of the antibody, respectively, and the dihedrals that measure the relative position of the antibody arms with respect to the surface. Results show that the interactions with amorphous silica, which are mainly electrostatic due to the charged nature of the surface, help to preserve the orientation and structure of the antibodies, especially of the IgG1-CR3022, indicating that the primary sequence of those antibodies also plays some role. Instead, short-range van der Waals interactions with the inert gold surface cause a higher degree tilting and fraying of the antibodies with respect to amorphous silica. The interactions between the antibodies and the surface also affect the correlation among the different angles and dihedrals, which increases with their strength. Overall, results explain why amorphous silica substrates are frequently used to immobilize antibodies in immunosensors. © 2022 The Authors

JTD Keywords: amorphous silica, enzyme, gol d, immobilization, immunosensor, molecu l a r dynamics, protein adsorption, sars-cov-2 immunosensor, simulations, spike protein, surface interactions, target, vaccine, Amorphous silica, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Antibody immobilization, Antibody structure, Article, Chemical detection, Computer model, Controlled study, Dihedral angle, Gold, In-silico, Molecular dynamics, Molecular levels, Molecular-dynamics, Nonhuman, Property, Sars, Sars-cov-2 immunosensor, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Silica, Silico studies, Silicon dioxide, Solid substrates, Structure analysis, Substrate chemistry, Substrates, Van der waals forces, Virus detection


Muntimadugu, Eameema, Silva-Abreu, Marcelle, Vives, Guillem, Loeck, Maximilian, Pham, Vy, del Moral, Maria, Solomon, Melani, Muro, Silvia, (2022). Comparison between Nanoparticle Encapsulation and Surface Loading for Lysosomal Enzyme Replacement Therapy International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 4034

Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) nanoparticles (NPs) enhance the delivery of therapeutic enzymes for replacement therapy of lysosomal storage disorders. Previous studies examined NPs encapsulating or coated with enzymes, but these formulations have never been compared. We examined this using hyaluronidase (HAse), deficient in mucopolysaccharidosis IX, and acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), deficient in types A–B Niemann–Pick disease. Initial screening of size, PDI, ζ potential, and loading resulted in the selection of the Lactel II co-polymer vs. Lactel I or Resomer, and Pluronic F68 surfactant vs. PVA or DMAB. Enzyme input and addition of carrier protein were evaluated, rendering NPs having, e.g., 181 nm diameter, 0.15 PDI, −36 mV ζ potential, and 538 HAse molecules encapsulated per NP. Similar NPs were coated with enzyme, which reduced loading (e.g., 292 HAse molecules/NP). NPs were coated with targeting antibodies (> 122 molecules/NP), lyophilized for storage without alterations, and acceptably stable at physiological conditions. NPs were internalized, trafficked to lysosomes, released active enzyme at lysosomal conditions, and targeted both peripheral organs and the brain after i.v. administration in mice. While both formulations enhanced enzyme delivery compared to free enzyme, encapsulating NPs surpassed coated counterparts (18.4- vs. 4.3-fold enhancement in cells and 6.2- vs. 3-fold enhancement in brains), providing guidance for future applications.

JTD Keywords: active enzymes, encapsulation, enhanced delivery, formulation parameters, icam-1 targeting, icam-1-targeted nanocarriers, in vivo biodistribution, in-vitro, lysosomal delivery, model, oral delivery, plga nanoparticles, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles, protein therapeutics, surface loading, Acid sphingomyelinase, Enzyme therapeutics


Woythe L, Madhikar P, Feiner-Gracia N, Storm C, Albertazzi L, (2022). A Single-Molecule View at Nanoparticle Targeting Selectivity: Correlating Ligand Functionality and Cell Receptor Density Acs Nano 16, 3785-3796

Antibody-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) are commonly used to increase the targeting selectivity toward cells of interest. At a molecular level, the number of functional antibodies on the NP surface and the density of receptors on the target cell determine the targeting interaction. To rationally develop selective NPs, the single-molecule quantitation of both parameters is highly desirable. However, techniques able to count molecules with a nanometric resolution are scarce. Here, we developed a labeling approach to quantify the number of functional cetuximabs conjugated to NPs and the expression of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) in breast cancer cells using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). The single-molecule resolution of dSTORM allows quantifying molecules at the nanoscale, giving a detailed insight into the distributions of individual NP ligands and cell receptors. Additionally, we predicted the fraction of accessible antibody-conjugated NPs using a geometrical model, showing that the total number exceeds the accessible number of antibodies. Finally, we correlated the NP functionality, cell receptor density, and NP uptake to identify the highest cell uptake selectivity regimes. We conclude that single-molecule functionality mapping using dSTORM provides a molecular understanding of NP targeting, aiding the rational design of selective nanomedicines.

JTD Keywords: active targeting, active targeting dstorm, antibodies, dstorm, heterogeneity, multivalency, nanomedicine, nanoparticle functionality, size, super-resolution microscopy, surface, Active targeting, Antibodies, Cell membranes, Cell receptors, Cytology, Direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, Dstorm, Heterogeneity, Ligands, Medical nanotechnology, Molecules, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticle functionality, Nanoparticle targeting, Nanoparticles, Optical reconstruction, Single molecule, Stochastic systems, Stochastics, Super-resolution microscopy, Superresolution microscopy


Raymond, Yago, Johansson, Linh, Thorel, Emilie, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2022). Translation of three-dimensional printing of ceramics in bone tissue engineering and drug delivery Mrs Bulletin 47, 59-69

Murar M, Albertazzi L, Pujals S, (2022). Advanced Optical Imaging-Guided Nanotheranostics toward Personalized Cancer Drug Delivery Nanomaterials 12, 399

Nanomedicine involves the use of nanotechnology for clinical applications and holds promise to improve treatments. Recent developments offer new hope for cancer detection, prevention and treatment; however, being a heterogenous disorder, cancer calls for a more targeted treatment approach. Personalized Medicine (PM) aims to revolutionize cancer therapy by matching the most effective treatment to individual patients. Nanotheranostics comprise a combination of therapy and diagnostic imaging incorporated in a nanosystem and are developed to fulfill the promise of PM by helping in the selection of treatments, the objective monitoring of response and the planning of follow-up therapy. Although well-established imaging techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT), are primarily used in the development of theranostics, Optical Imaging (OI) offers some advantages, such as high sensitivity, spatial and temporal resolution and less invasiveness. Additionally, it allows for multiplexing, using multi-color imaging and DNA barcoding, which further aids in the development of personalized treatments. Recent advances have also given rise to techniques permitting better penetration, opening new doors for OI-guided nanotheranostics. In this review, we describe in detail these recent advances that may be used to design and develop efficient and specific nanotheranostics for personalized cancer drug delivery. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: 5-aminolevulinic acid, cancer, contrast agents, in-vivo, malignant gliomas, multifunctional nanoparticles, nanomedicine, optical imaging, ovarian-cancer, personalized medicine, quantum dots, silica nanoparticles, targeted probes, theranostics, Cancer, Nanomedicine, Optical imaging, Personalized medicine, Superparamagnetic iron-oxide, Theranostics


Boloix, A, Feiner-Gracia, N, Kober, M, Repetto, J, Pascarella, R, Soriano, A, Masanas, M, Segovia, N, Vargas-Nadal, G, Merlo-Mas, J, Danino, D, Abutbul-Ionita, I, Foradada, L, Roma, J, Cordoba, A, Sala, S, Toledo, JS, Gallego, S, Veciana, J, Albertazzi, L, Segura, MF, Ventosa, N, (2022). Engineering pH-Sensitive Stable Nanovesicles for Delivery of MicroRNA Therapeutics Small 18, 2101959

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding endogenous RNAs, which are attracting a growing interest as therapeutic molecules due to their central role in major diseases. However, the transformation of these biomolecules into drugs is limited due to their unstability in the bloodstream, caused by nucleases abundantly present in the blood, and poor capacity to enter cells. The conjugation of miRNAs to nanoparticles (NPs) could be an effective strategy for their clinical delivery. Herein, the engineering of non-liposomal lipid nanovesicles, named quatsomes (QS), for the delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs into the cytosol of tumor cells, triggering a tumor-suppressive response is reported. The engineered pH-sensitive nanovesicles have controlled structure (unilamellar), size (<150 nm) and composition. These nanovesicles are colloidal stable (>24 weeks), and are prepared by a green, GMP compliant, and scalable one-step procedure, which are all unavoidable requirements for the arrival to the clinical practice of NP based miRNA therapeutics. Furthermore, QS protect miRNAs from RNAses and when injected intravenously, deliver them into liver, lung, and neuroblastoma xenografts tumors. These stable nanovesicles with tunable pH sensitiveness constitute an attractive platform for the efficient delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs with therapeutic activity and their exploitation in the clinics.

JTD Keywords: cancer therapy, mirnas delivery, nanocarriers, nanovesicles, neuroblastoma, pediatric cancer, quatsomes, Biodistribution, Cancer therapy, Cell engineering, Cells, Cholesterol, Controlled drug delivery, Diseases, Dna, Dysregulated ph, Lipoplex, Microrna delivery, Mirnas delivery, Nanocarriers, Nanoparticles, Nanovesicle, Nanovesicles, Neuroblastoma, Neuroblastomas, Pediatric cancer, Ph sensitive, Ph sensors, Quatsome, Quatsomes, Rna, Sirna, Sirna delivery, Sirnas delivery, Small interfering rna, Small rna, Targeted drug delivery, Tumors, Vesicles


Chacon DS, Torres TM, da Silva IB, de Araújo TF, Roque AdA, Pinheiro FASD, Selegato D, Pilon A, Reginaldo FPS, da Costa CT, Vilasboa J, Freire RT, Voigt EL, Zuanazzi JAS, Libonati R, Rodrigues JA, Santos FLM, Scortecci KC, Lopes NP, Ferreira LDS, dos Santos LV, Cavalheiro AJ, Fett-Neto AG, Giordani RB, (2021). Erythrina velutina Willd. alkaloids: Piecing biosynthesis together from transcriptome analysis and metabolite profiling of seeds and leaves Journal Of Advanced Research 34, 123-136

© 2021 Introduction: Natural products of pharmaceutical interest often do not reach the drug market due to the associated low yields and difficult extraction. Knowledge of biosynthetic pathways is a key element in the development of biotechnological strategies for plant specialized metabolite production. The scarce studies regarding non-model plants impair advances in this field. Erythrina spp. are mainly used as central nervous system depressants in folk medicine and are important sources of bioactive tetracyclic benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, which can act on several pathology-related biological targets. Objective: Herein the purpose is to employ combined transcriptome and metabolome analyses (seeds and leaves) of a non-model medicinal Fabaceae species grown in its unique arid natural habitat. The study tries to propose a putative biosynthetic pathway for the bioactive alkaloids by using an omic integrated approach. Methods: The Next Generation Sequencing-based transcriptome (de novo RNA sequencing) was carried out in a Illumina NextSeq 500 platform. Regarding the targeted metabolite profiling, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to a micrOTOF-QII, High Resolution Mass Spectrometer, were used. Results: This detailed macro and micromolecular approach applied to seeds and leaves of E. velutina revealed 42 alkaloids by metabolome tools. Based on the combined evidence, 24 gene candidates were put together in a putative pathway leading to the singular alkaloid diversity of this species. Conclusion: These results contribute by indicating potential biotechnological targets Erythrina alkaloids biosynthesis as well as to improve molecular databases with omic data from a non-model medicinal plant. Furthermore, they reveal an interesting chemical diversity in Erythrina velutina harvested in Caatinga. Last, but not least, this data may also contribute to tap Brazilian biodiversity in a rational and sustainable fashion, promoting adequate public policies for preservation and protection of sensitive areas within the Caatinga.

JTD Keywords: benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, caatinga, codeinone reductase, erythrina velutina, expression, mass-spectrometry, molecular-cloning, morphine biosynthesis, natural-products, opium poppy, papaver-somniferum, plant-metabolism, targeted metabolite profile, transcriptome, Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, Berberine bridge enzyme, Caatinga, Erythrina velutina, Targeted metabolite profile, Transcriptome


Chausse, Victor, Schieber, Romain, Raymond, Yago, Ségry, Brian, Sabaté, Ramon, Kolandaivelu, Kumaran, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Pegueroles, Marta, (2021). Solvent-cast direct-writing as a fabrication strategy for radiopaque stents Additive Manufacturing 48,

Guasch-Girbau A, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Review of the current landscape of the potential of nanotechnology for future malaria diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination strategies Pharmaceutics 13,

Malaria eradication has for decades been on the global health agenda, but the causative agents of the disease, several species of the protist parasite Plasmodium, have evolved mechanisms to evade vaccine-induced immunity and to rapidly acquire resistance against all drugs entering clinical use. Because classical antimalarial approaches have consistently failed, new strategies must be explored. One of these is nanomedicine, the application of manipulation and fabrication technology in the range of molecular dimensions between 1 and 100 nm, to the development of new medical solutions. Here we review the current state of the art in malaria diagnosis, prevention, and therapy and how nanotechnology is already having an incipient impact in improving them. In the second half of this review, the next generation of antimalarial drugs currently in the clinical pipeline is presented, with a definition of these drugs’ target product profiles and an assessment of the potential role of nanotechnology in their development. Opinions extracted from interviews with experts in the fields of nanomedicine, clinical malaria, and the economic landscape of the disease are included to offer a wider scope of the current requirements to win the fight against malaria and of how nanoscience can contribute to achieve them. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: antibody-bearing liposomes, antimalarial drugs, combination therapies, drug-delivery strategies, malaria diagnosis, malaria prophylaxis, malaria therapy, nanocarriers, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, nanotechnology, plasmodium, plasmodium-falciparum, red-blood-cells, targeted delivery, targeted drug delivery, vitro antimalarial activity, Antimalarial drugs, Isothermal amplification lamp, Malaria diagnosis, Malaria prophylaxis, Malaria therapy, Nanocarriers, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Rial-Hermida MI, Rey-Rico A, Blanco-Fernandez B, Carballo-Pedrares N, Byrne EM, Mano JF, (2021). Recent Progress on Polysaccharide-Based Hydrogels for Controlled Delivery of Therapeutic Biomolecules Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 7, 4102-4127

A plethora of applications using polysaccharides have been developed in recent years due to their availability as well as their frequent nontoxicity and biodegradability. These polymers are usually obtained from renewable sources or are byproducts of industrial processes, thus, their use is collaborative in waste management and shows promise for an enhanced sustainable circular economy. Regarding the development of novel delivery systems for biotherapeutics, the potential of polysaccharides is attractive for the previously mentioned properties and also for the possibility of chemical modification of their structures, their ability to form matrixes of diverse architectures and mechanical properties, as well as for their ability to maintain bioactivity following incorporation of the biomolecules into the matrix. Biotherapeutics, such as proteins, growth factors, gene vectors, enzymes, hormones, DNA/RNA, and antibodies are currently in use as major therapeutics in a wide range of pathologies. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in the development of polysaccharide-based hydrogels of diverse nature, alone or in combination with other polymers or drug delivery systems, which have been implemented in the delivery of biotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. © 2021 American Chemical Society.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable dextran hydrogels, biotherapeutics, bone morphogenetic protein-2, carrageenan-based hydrogels, chitosan-based hydrogels, controlled delivery, controlled-release, cross-linked hydrogels, growth-factor delivery, hydrogels, in-vitro characterization, polysaccharides, self-healing hydrogel, stimuli-responsiveness, tissue engineering, Antibodies, Bioactivity, Biodegradability, Biomedical fields, Biomolecules, Biotherapeutics, Chemical modification, Circular economy, Controlled delivery, Controlled drug delivery, Delivery systems, Drug delivery system, Functional polymers, Hyaluronic-acid hydrogels, Hydrogels, Industrial processs, Polysaccharides, Recent progress, Renewable sources, Stimuli-responsiveness, Targeted drug delivery, Tissue engineering, Waste management


Manzano-Muñoz A, Alcon C, Menéndez P, Ramírez M, Seyfried F, Debatin KM, Meyer LH, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). MCL-1 Inhibition Overcomes Anti-apoptotic Adaptation to Targeted Therapies in B-Cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 9,

Multiple targeted therapies are currently explored for pediatric and young adult B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) treatment. However, this new armamentarium of therapies faces an old problem: choosing the right treatment for each patient. The lack of predictive biomarkers is particularly worrying for pediatric patients since it impairs the implementation of new treatments in the clinic. In this study, we used the functional assay dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP) to evaluate two new treatments for BCP-ALL that could improve clinical outcome, especially for relapsed patients. We found that the MEK inhibitor trametinib and the multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib exquisitely increased apoptotic priming in an NRAS-mutant and in a KMT2A-rearranged cell line presenting a high expression of FLT3, respectively. Following these observations, we sought to study potential adaptations to these treatments. Indeed, we identified with DBP anti-apoptotic changes in the BCL-2 family after treatment, particularly involving MCL-1 – a pro-survival strategy previously observed in adult cancers. To overcome this adaptation, we employed the BH3 mimetic S63845, a specific MCL-1 inhibitor, and evaluated its sequential addition to both kinase inhibitors to overcome resistance. We observed that the metronomic combination of both drugs with S63845 was synergistic and showed an increased efficacy compared to single agents. Similar observations were made in BCP-ALL KMT2A-rearranged PDX cells in response to sunitinib, showing an analogous DBP profile to the SEM cell line. These findings demonstrate that rational sequences of targeted agents with BH3 mimetics, now extensively explored in clinical trials, may improve treatment effectiveness by overcoming anti-apoptotic adaptations in BCP-ALL.

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cancer, dependence, increases, kinase inhibition, pediatric leukemia, precision medicine, resistance, sensitivity, targeted therapies, tumor-cells, venetoclax, Apoptosis, Bcl-2 family proteins, Bh3 mimetics, Pediatric leukemia, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Calistri A, Luganini A, Mognetti B, Elder E, Sibille G, Conciatori V, Del Vecchio C, Sainas S, Boschi D, Montserrat N, Mirazimi A, Lolli ML, Gribaudo G, Parolin C, (2021). The new generation hdhodh inhibitor meds433 hinders the in vitro replication of sars-cov-2 and other human coronaviruses Microorganisms 9,

Although coronaviruses (CoVs) have long been predicted to cause zoonotic diseases and pandemics with high probability, the lack of effective anti-pan-CoVs drugs rapidly usable against the emerging SARS-CoV-2 actually prevented a promptly therapeutic intervention for COVID-19. Development of host-targeting antivirals could be an alternative strategy for the control of emerging CoVs infections, as they could be quickly repositioned from one pandemic event to another. To contribute to these pandemic preparedness efforts, here we report on the broad-spectrum CoVs antiviral activity of MEDS433, a new inhibitor of the human dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (hDHODH), a key cellular enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway. MEDS433 in-hibited the in vitro replication of hCoV-OC43 and hCoV-229E, as well as of SARS-CoV-2, at low nanomolar range. Notably, the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of MEDS433 against SARS-CoV-2 was also observed in kidney organoids generated from human embryonic stem cells. Then, the antiviral activity of MEDS433 was reversed by the addition of exogenous uridine or the product of hDHODH, the orotate, thus confirming hDHODH as the specific target of MEDS433 in hCoVs-infected cells. Taken together, these findings suggest MEDS433 as a potential candidate to develop novel drugs for COVID-19, as well as broad-spectrum antiviral agents exploitable for future CoVs threats.

JTD Keywords: antiviral activity, biosynthesis, broad-spectrum antiviral, combination treatment, coronavirus, dipyridamole, hdhodh inhibitor, organoids, pyrimidine, pyrimidine biosynthesis, sars-cov-2, target, virus-infection, Antiviral activ-ity, Broad-spectrum antiviral, Combination treatment, Coronavirus, Gene-expression, Hdhodh inhibitor, Organoids, Pyrimidine biosynthesis, Sars-cov-2


Abramov A, Maiti B, Keridou I, Puiggalí J, Reiser O, Díaz DD, (2021). A pH-Triggered Polymer Degradation or Drug Delivery System by Light-Mediated Cis/Trans Isomerization of o-Hydroxy Cinnamates Macromolecular Rapid Communications 42,

A new methodology for the pH-triggered degradation of polymers or for the release of drugs under visible light irradiation based on the cyclization of ortho-hydroxy-cinnamates (oHC) to coumarins is described. The key oHC structural motif can be readily incorporated into the rational design of novel photocleavable polymers via click chemistry. This main-chain moiety undergoes a fast photocleavage when irradiated with 455 nm light provided that a suitable base is added. A series of polyethylene glycol-alt-ortho-hydroxy cinnamate (polyethylene glycol (PEG)(n)-alt-oHC)-based polymers are synthesized and the time-dependent visible-light initiated cleavage of the photoactive monomer and polymer is investigated in solution by a variety of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. The photo-degradation behavior of the water-soluble poly(PEG(2000)-alt-oHC) is investigated within a broad pH range (pH = 2.1-11.8), demonstrating fast degradation at pH 11.8, while the stability of the polymer is greatly enhanced at pH 2.1. Moreover, the neat polymer shows long-term stability under daylight conditions, thus allowing its storage without special precautions. In addition, two water-soluble PEG-based drug-carrier molecules (mPEG(2000)-oHC-benzhydrol/phenol) are synthesized and used for drug delivery studies, monitoring the process by UV-vis spectroscopy in an ON/OFF intermittent manner.

JTD Keywords: coumarins, drug delivery, e/z-double bond isomerization, o-hydroxy cinnamates, polymer degradation, Aliphatic compounds, Antioxidant activity, Antitumor, Chromatographic techniques, Chromatography, Cis/trans isomerization, Controlled drug delivery, Coumarin derivatives, Coumarins, Drug delivery, Drug delivery system, E/z-double bond isomerization, Films, Hydrogels, Image enhancement, Light, Long term stability, O-hydroxy cinnamates, Particles, Photoactive monomers, Photodegradation, Polyethylene glycols, Polyethylenes, Polymer degradation, Responsive polymers, Salts, Structural motifs, Synthesis (chemical), Targeted drug delivery, Visible light photocatalysis, Visible-light irradiation


Alcon C, Gómez Tejeda Zañudo J, Albert R, Wagle N, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). ER+ Breast Cancer Strongly Depends on MCL-1 and BCL-xL Anti-Apoptotic Proteins Cells 10,

Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer and the major cause of mortality in women. The rapid development of various therapeutic options has led to the improvement of treatment outcomes; nevertheless, one-third of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients relapse due to cancer cell acquired resistance. Here, we use dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP), a functional predictive assay that measures net changes in apoptotic priming, to find new effective treatments for ER+ breast cancer. We observed anti-apoptotic adaptations upon treatment that pointed to metronomic therapeutic combinations to enhance cytotoxicity and avoid resistance. Indeed, we found that the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-xL and MCL-1 are crucial for ER+ breast cancer cells resistance to therapy, as they exert a dual inhibition of the pro-apoptotic protein BIM and compensate for each other. In addition, we identified the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib and two BH3 mimetics targeting these anti-apoptotic proteins, S63845 and A-1331852, as new potential therapies for this type of cancer. Therefore, we postulate the sequential inhibition of both proteins using BH3 mimetics as a new treatment option for refractory and relapsed ER+ breast cancer tumors.

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cell-line, chemotherapy, classification, dbp, death, er+ breast cancer, fulvestrant, her2, inhibitor, kinase, pik3ca, priming, resistance, targeted therapies, Apoptosis, Bh3 mimetics, Dbp, Endocrine therapy, Er plus breast cancer, Er+ breast cancer, Priming, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Marti, D, Martin-Martinez, E, Torras, J, Bertran, O, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). In silico antibody engineering for SARS-CoV-2 detection Computational And Structural Biotechnology Journal 19, 5525-5534

Engineered immunoglobulin-G molecules (IgGs) are of wide interest for the development of detection elements in protein-based biosensors with clinical applications. The strategy usually employed for the de novo design of such engineered IgGs consists on merging fragments of the three-dimensional structure of a native IgG, which is immobilized on the biosensor surface, and of an antibody with an exquisite target specificity and affinity. In this work conventional and accelerated classical molecular dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively) simulations have been used to propose two IgG-like antibodies for COVID-19 detection. More specifically, the crystal structure of the IgG1 B12 antibody, which inactivates the human immunodeficiency virus-1, has been merged with the structure of the antibody CR3022 Fab tightly bounded to SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the structure of the 5309 antibody Fab fragment complexed with SARS-CoV-2 RBD. The two constructed antibodies, named IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, respectively, have been immobilized on a stable gold surface through a linker. Analyses of the influence of both the merging strategy and the substrate on the stability of the two constructs indicate that the IgG1-S309 antibody better preserves the neutralizing structure than the IgG1-CR3022 one. Overall, results indicate that the IgG1-S309 is appropriated for the generation of antibody based sensors for COVID-19 diagnosis. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Research Network of Computational and Structural Biotechnology.

JTD Keywords: cr3022, igg1, molecular engineering, s309, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Biosensors, Chemical detection, Clinical application, Cov, Cr3022, Crystal structure, Design, Diseases, Gold nanoparticles, Igg1, Igg1 antibody, Immobilization, Immunoglobulin g, Immunosensor, In-silico, Merging, Molecular dynamics, Molecular engineering, Orientation, Protein-based biosensors, Receptor-binding domains, S309, Sars, Sensor, Spike protein, Target, Vaccine, Viruses


Manthe, Rachel L., Loeck, Maximilian, Bhowmick, Tridib, Solomon, Melani, Muro, Silvia, (2020). Intertwined mechanisms define transport of anti-ICAM nanocarriers across the endothelium and brain delivery of a therapeutic enzyme Journal of Controlled Release 324, 181-193

The interaction of drug delivery systems with tissues is key for their application. An example is drug carriers targeted to endothelial barriers, which can be transported to intra-endothelial compartments (lysosomes) or transcellularly released at the tissue side (transcytosis). Although carrier targeting valency influences this process, the mechanism is unknown. We studied this using polymer nanocarriers (NCs) targeted to intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), an endothelial-surface glycoprotein whose expression is increased in pathologies characterized by inflammation. A bell-shaped relationship was found between NC targeting valency and the rate of transcytosis, where high and low NC valencies rendered less efficient transcytosis rates than an intermediate valency formulation. In contrast, an inverted bell-shape relationship was found for NC valency and lysosomal trafficking rates. Data suggested a model where NC valency plays an opposing role in the two sub-processes involved in transcytosis: NC binding-uptake depended directly on valency and exocytosis-detachment was inversely related to this parameter. This is because the greater the avidity of the NC-receptor interaction the more efficient uptake becomes, but NC-receptor detachment post-transport is more compromised. Cleavage of the receptor at the basolateral side of endothelial cells facilitated NC transcytosis, likely by helping NC detachment post-transport. Since transcytosis encompasses both sets of events, the full process finds an optimum at the intersection of these inverted relationships, explaining the bell-shaped behavior. NCs also trafficked to lysosomes from the apical side and, additionally, from the basolateral side in the case of high valency NCs which are slower at detaching from the receptor. This explains the opposite behavior of NC valency for transcytosis vs. lysosomal transport. Anti-ICAM NCs were verified to traffic into the brain after intravenous injection in mice, and both cellular and in vivo data showed that intermediate valency NCs resulted in higher delivery of a therapeutic enzyme, acid sphingomyelinase, required for types A and B Niemann-Pick disease.

JTD Keywords: Blood-brain barrier, ICAM-1-targeted nanocarriers, Targeting valency, Receptor-mediated transport, Lysosomal transcytosis destinations


Hortelão, Ana C., Carrascosa, Rafael, Murillo-Cremaes, Nerea, Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Targeting 3D bladder cancer spheroids with urease-powered nanomotors ACS Nano 13, (1), 429-439

Cancer is one of the main causes of death around the world, lacking efficient clinical treatments that generally present severe side effects. In recent years, various nanosystems have been explored to specifically target tumor tissues, enhancing the efficacy of cancer treatment and minimizing the side effects. In particular, bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer worldwide and presents a high survival rate but serious recurrence levels, demanding an improvement in the existent therapies. Here, we present urease-powered nanomotors based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles that contain both polyethylene glycol and anti-FGFR3 antibody on their outer surface to target bladder cancer cells in the form of 3D spheroids. The autonomous motion is promoted by urea, which acts as fuel and is inherently present at high concentrations in the bladder. Antibody-modified nanomotors were able to swim in both simulated and real urine, showing a substrate-dependent enhanced diffusion. The internalization efficiency of the antibody-modified nanomotors into the spheroids in the presence of urea was significantly higher compared with antibody-modified passive particles or bare nanomotors. Furthermore, targeted nanomotors resulted in a higher suppression of spheroid proliferation compared with bare nanomotors, which could arise from the local ammonia production and the therapeutic effect of anti-FGFR3. These results hold significant potential for the development of improved targeted cancer therapy and diagnostics using biocompatible nanomotors.

JTD Keywords: 3D cell culture, Bladder cancer, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanomachines, Nanomotors, Self-propulsion, Targeting


Montero, Joan, Gstalder, Cécile, Kim, Daniel J., Sadowicz, Dorota, Miles, Wayne, Manos, Michael, Cidado, Justin R., Paul Secrist, J., Tron, Adriana E., Flaherty, Keith, Stephen Hodi, F., Yoon, Charles H., Letai, Anthony, Fisher, David E., Haq, Rizwan, (2019). Destabilization of NOXA mRNA as a common resistance mechanism to targeted therapies Nature Communications 10, (1), 5157

Most targeted cancer therapies fail to achieve complete tumor regressions or attain durable remissions. To understand why these treatments fail to induce robust cytotoxic responses despite appropriately targeting oncogenic drivers, here we systematically interrogated the dependence of cancer cells on the BCL-2 family of apoptotic proteins after drug treatment. We observe that multiple targeted therapies, including BRAF or EGFR inhibitors, rapidly deplete the pro-apoptotic factor NOXA, thus creating a dependence on the anti-apoptotic protein MCL-1. This adaptation requires a pathway leading to destabilization of the NOXA mRNA transcript. We find that interruption of this mechanism of anti-apoptotic adaptive resistance dramatically increases cytotoxic responses in cell lines and a murine melanoma model. These results identify NOXA mRNA destabilization/MCL-1 adaptation as a non-genomic mechanism that limits apoptotic responses, suggesting that sequencing of MCL-1 inhibitors with targeted therapies could overcome such widespread and clinically important resistance.

JTD Keywords: Cancer therapeutic resistance, Melanoma, Targeted therapies


Roki, N., Tsinas, Z., Solomon, M., Bowers, J., Getts, R. C., Muro, S., (2019). Unprecedently high targeting specificity toward lung ICAM-1 using 3DNA nanocarriers Journal of Controlled Release 305, 41-49

DNA nanostructures hold great potential for drug delivery. However, their specific targeting is often compromised by recognition by scavenger receptors involved in clearance. In our previous study in cell culture, we showed targeting specificity of a 180 nm, 4-layer DNA-built nanocarrier called 3DNA coupled with antibodies against intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), a glycoprotein overexpressed in the lungs in many diseases. Here, we examined the biodistribution of various 3DNA formulations in mice. A formulation consisted of 3DNA whose outer-layer arms were hybridized to secondary antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates. Anchoring IgG on this formulation reduced circulation and kidney accumulation vs. non-anchored IgG, while increasing liver and spleen clearance, as expected for a nanocarrier. Anchoring anti-ICAM changed the biodistribution of this antibody similarly, yet this formulation specifically accumulated in the lungs, the main ICAM-1 target. Since lung targeting was modest (2-fold specificity index over IgG formulation), we pursued a second preparation involving direct hybridization of primary antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates to 3DNA. This formulation had prolonged stability in serum and showed a dramatic increase in lung distribution: the specificity index was 424-fold above a matching IgG formulation, 144-fold more specific than observed for PLGA nanoparticles of similar size, polydispersity, ζ-potential and antibody valency, and its lung accumulation increased with the number of anti-ICAM molecules per particle. Immunohistochemistry showed that anti-ICAM and 3DNA components colocalized in the lungs, specifically associating with endothelial markers, without apparent histological changes. The degree of in vivo targeting for anti-ICAM/3DNA-nanocarriers is unprecedented, for which this platform technology holds great potential to develop future therapeutic applications.

JTD Keywords: 3DNA, DNA nanostructure, Drug nanocarrier, Endothelial and lung targeting, ICAM-1, In vivo biodistribution


Biosca, A., Dirscherl, L., Moles, E., Imperial, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2019). An immunoPEGliposome for targeted antimalarial combination therapy at the nanoscale Pharmaceutics 11, (7), 341

Combination therapies, where two drugs acting through different mechanisms are administered simultaneously, are one of the most efficient approaches currently used to treat malaria infections. However, the different pharmacokinetic profiles often exhibited by the combined drugs tend to decrease treatment efficacy as the compounds are usually eliminated from the circulation at different rates. To circumvent this obstacle, we have engineered an immunoliposomal nanovector encapsulating hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds in its lumen and lipid bilayer, respectively. The antimalarial domiphen bromide has been encapsulated in the liposome membrane with good efficiency, although its high IC50 of ca. 1 μM for living parasites complicates its use as immunoliposomal therapy due to erythrocyte agglutination. The conjugation of antibodies against glycophorin A targeted the nanocarriers to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells and to gametocytes, the sole malaria parasite stage responsible for the transmission from the human to the mosquito vector. The antimalarials pyronaridine and atovaquone, which block the development of gametocytes, have been co-encapsulated in glycophorin A-targeted immunoliposomes. The co-immunoliposomized drugs have activities significantly higher than their free forms when tested in in vitro Plasmodium falciparum cultures: Pyronaridine and atovaquone concentrations that, when encapsulated in immunoliposomes, resulted in a 50% inhibition of parasite growth had no effect on the viability of the pathogen when used as free drugs.

JTD Keywords: Combination therapy, Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Moles, E., Kavallaris, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2019). Modeling the distribution of diprotic basic drugs in liposomal systems: Perspectives on malaria nanotherapy Frontiers in Pharmacology 10, 1064

Understanding how polyprotic compounds distribute within liposome (LP) suspensions is of major importance to design effective drug delivery strategies. Advances in this research field led to the definition of LP-based active drug encapsulation methods driven by transmembrane pH gradients with evidenced efficacy in the management of cancer and infectious diseases. An accurate modeling of membrane-solution drug partitioning is also fundamental when designing drug delivery systems for poorly endocytic cells, such as red blood cells (RBCs), in which the delivered payloads rely mostly on the passive diffusion of drug molecules across the cell membrane. Several experimental models have been proposed so far to predict the partitioning of polyprotic basic/acid drugs in artificial membranes. Nevertheless, the definition of a model in which the membrane-solution partitioning of each individual drug microspecies is studied relative to each other is still a topic of ongoing research. We present here a novel experimental approach based on mathematical modeling of drug encapsulation efficiency (EE) data in liposomal systems by which microspecies-specific partition coefficients are reported as a function of pH and phospholipid compositions replicating the RBC membrane in a simple and highly translatable manner. This approach has been applied to the study of several diprotic basic antimalarials of major clinical importance (quinine, primaquine, tafenoquine, quinacrine, and chloroquine) describing their respective microspecies distribution in phosphatidylcholine-LP suspensions. Estimated EE data according to the model described here closely fitted experimental values with no significant differences obtained in 75% of all pH/lipid composition-dependent conditions assayed. Additional applications studied include modeling drug EE in LPs in response to transmembrane pH gradients and lipid bilayer asymmetric charge, conditions of potential interest reflected in our previously reported RBC-targeted antimalarial nanotherapeutics.

JTD Keywords: Distribution coefficient, Liposomal systems, Malaria therapy, Nanomedicine, Partition coefficient, PH-controlled drug encapsulation, Polyprotic drug, Targeted drug delivery


Martí Coma-Cros, E., Biosca, A., Marques, J., Carol, L., Urbán, P., Berenguer, D., Riera, M. C., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Pérez, P., Paaijmans, K., Rottmann, M., Manfredi, A., Ferruti, P., Ranucci, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Polyamidoamine nanoparticles for the oral administration of antimalarial drugs Pharmaceutics 10, (4), 225

Current strategies for the mass administration of antimalarial drugs demand oral formulations to target the asexual Plasmodium stages in the peripheral bloodstream, whereas recommendations for future interventions stress the importance of also targeting the transmission stages of the parasite as it passes between humans and mosquitoes. Orally administered polyamidoamine (PAA) nanoparticles conjugated to chloroquine reached the blood circulation and cured Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice, slightly improving the activity of the free drug and inducing in the animals immunity against malaria. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry analysis of affinity chromatography-purified PAA ligands suggested a high adhesiveness of PAAs to Plasmodium falciparum proteins, which might be the mechanism responsible for the preferential binding of PAAs to Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes vs. non-infected red blood cells. The weak antimalarial activity of some PAAs was found to operate through inhibition of parasite invasion, whereas the observed polymer intake by macrophages indicated a potential of PAAs for the treatment of certain coinfections such as Plasmodium and Leishmania. When fluorescein-labeled PAAs were fed to females of the malaria mosquito vectors Anopheles atroparvus and Anopheles gambiae, persistent fluorescence was observed in the midgut and in other insect’s tissues. These results present PAAs as a versatile platform for the encapsulation of orally administered antimalarial drugs and for direct administration of antimalarials to mosquitoes, targeting mosquito stages of Plasmodium.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Borgheti-Cardoso, L.N., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Turning Plasmodium survival strategies against itself Future Medicinal Chemistry 10, (19), 2245-2248

Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Beck, Michaela, Pujals, Sílvia, Tosi, Sébastien, Mandal, Tamoghna, Buske, Christian, Linden, Mika, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2017). Super-resolution microscopy unveils dynamic heterogeneities in nanoparticle protein corona Small 13, (41), 1701631

The adsorption of serum proteins, leading to the formation of a biomolecular corona, is a key determinant of the biological identity of nanoparticles in vivo. Therefore, gaining knowledge on the formation, composition, and temporal evolution of the corona is of utmost importance for the development of nanoparticle-based therapies. Here, it is shown that the use of super-resolution optical microscopy enables the imaging of the protein corona on mesoporous silica nanoparticles with single protein sensitivity. Particle-by-particle quantification reveals a significant heterogeneity in protein absorption under native conditions. Moreover, the diversity of the corona evolves over time depending on the surface chemistry and degradability of the particles. This paper investigates the consequences of protein adsorption for specific cell targeting by antibody-functionalized nanoparticles providing a detailed understanding of corona-activity relations. The methodology is widely applicable to a variety of nanostructures and complements the existing ensemble approaches for protein corona study.

JTD Keywords: Heterogeneity, Mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Protein corona, Super-resolution imaging, Targeting


Moles, E., Galiano, S., Gomes, A., Quiliano, M., Teixeira, C., Aldana, I., Gomes, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). ImmunoPEGliposomes for the targeted delivery of novel lipophilic drugs to red blood cells in a falciparum malaria murine model Biomaterials 145, 178-191

Most drugs currently entering the clinical pipeline for severe malaria therapeutics are of lipophilic nature, with a relatively poor solubility in plasma and large biodistribution volumes. Low amounts of these compounds do consequently accumulate in circulating Plasmodium-infected red blood cells, exhibiting limited antiparasitic activity. These drawbacks can in principle be satisfactorily dealt with by stably encapsulating drugs in targeted nanocarriers. Here this approach has been adapted for its use in immunocompetent mice infected by the Plasmodium yoelii 17XL lethal strain, selected as a model for human blood infections by Plasmodium falciparum. Using immunoliposomes targeted against a surface protein characteristic of the murine erythroid lineage, the protocol has been applied to two novel antimalarial lipophilic drug candidates, an aminoquinoline and an aminoalcohol. Large encapsulation yields of >90% were obtained using a citrate-buffered pH gradient method and the resulting immunoliposomes reached in vivo erythrocyte targeting and retention efficacies of >80%. In P. yoelii-infected mice, the immunoliposomized aminoquinoline succeeded in decreasing blood parasitemia from severe to uncomplicated malaria parasite densities (i.e. from ≥25% to ca. 5%), whereas the same amount of drug encapsulated in non-targeted liposomes had no significant effect on parasite growth. Pharmacokinetic analysis indicated that this good performance was obtained with a rapid clearance of immunoliposomes from the circulation (blood half-life of ca. 2 h), suggesting a potential for improvement of the proposed model.

JTD Keywords: Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium yoelii 17XL, Targeted drug delivery


Marques, J., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Urbán, P., Baró, E., Prohens, R., Mayor, A., Cisteró, P., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Grandfils, C., de Paz, J. L., García-Salcedo, J. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). Adaptation of targeted nanocarriers to changing requirements in antimalarial drug delivery Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 13, (2), 515-525

The adaptation of existing antimalarial nanocarriers to new Plasmodium stages, drugs, targeting molecules, or encapsulating structures is a strategy that can provide new nanotechnology-based, cost-efficient therapies against malaria. We have explored the modification of different liposome prototypes that had been developed in our group for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs). These new models include: (i) immunoliposome-mediated release of new lipid-based antimalarials; (ii) liposomes targeted to pRBCs with covalently linked heparin to reduce anticoagulation risks; (iii) adaptation of heparin to pRBC targeting of chitosan nanoparticles; (iv) use of heparin for the targeting of Plasmodium stages in the mosquito vector; and (v) use of the non-anticoagulant glycosaminoglycan chondroitin 4-sulfate as a heparin surrogate for pRBC targeting. The results presented indicate that the tuning of existing nanovessels to new malaria-related targets is a valid low-cost alternative to the de novo development of targeted nanosystems.

JTD Keywords: Glycosaminoglycans, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Aláez-Versón, C. R., Lantero, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). Heparin: New life for an old drug Nanomedicine 12, (14), 1727-1744

Heparin is one of the oldest drugs, which nevertheless remains in widespread clinical use as an inhibitor of blood coagulation. The history of its identification a century ago unfolded amid one of the most fascinating scientific controversies turning around the distribution of credit for its discovery. The composition, purification and structure-function relationship of this naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan regarding its classical role as anticoagulant will be dealt with before proceeding to discuss its therapeutic potential in, among other, inflammatory and infectious disease, cancer treatment, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's disease. The first bibliographic reference hit using the words 'nanomedicine' and 'heparin' is as recent as 2008. Since then, nanomedical applications of heparin have experienced an exponential growth that will be discussed in detail, with particular emphasis on its antimalarial activity. Some of the most intriguing potential applications of heparin nanomedicines will be exposed, such as those contemplating the delivery of drugs to the mosquito stages of malaria parasites.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Heparin, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Ma, Xing, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Self-propelling micro-nanorobots: challenges and future perspectives in nanomedicine Nanomedicine 12, (12), 1363-1367

Garreta, E., de Oñate, L., Fernández-Santos, M. E., Oria, R., Tarantino, C., Climent, A. M., Marco, A., Samitier, M., Martínez, Elena, Valls-Margarit, M., Matesanz, R., Taylor, D. A., Fernández-Avilés, F., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., Montserrat, N., (2016). Myocardial commitment from human pluripotent stem cells: Rapid production of human heart grafts Biomaterials 98, 64-78

Genome editing on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) together with the development of protocols for organ decellularization opens the door to the generation of autologous bioartificial hearts. Here we sought to generate for the first time a fluorescent reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line by means of Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to efficiently produce cardiomyocyte-like cells (CLCs) from hPSCs and repopulate decellularized human heart ventricles for heart engineering. In our hands, targeting myosin heavy chain locus (MYH6) with mCherry fluorescent reporter by TALEN technology in hESCs did not alter major pluripotent-related features, and allowed for the definition of a robust protocol for CLCs production also from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) in 14 days. hPSCs-derived CLCs (hPSCs-CLCs) were next used to recellularize acellular cardiac scaffolds. Electrophysiological responses encountered when hPSCs-CLCs were cultured on ventricular decellularized extracellular matrix (vdECM) correlated with significant increases in the levels of expression of different ion channels determinant for calcium homeostasis and heart contractile function. Overall, the approach described here allows for the rapid generation of human cardiac grafts from hPSCs, in a total of 24 days, providing a suitable platform for cardiac engineering and disease modeling in the human setting.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac function, Extracellular matrix, Gene targeting, Pluripotent stem cells


Moles, E., Moll, K., Ch'ng, J. H., Parini, P., Wahlgren, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Development of drug-loaded immunoliposomes for the selective targeting and elimination of rosetting Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells Journal of Controlled Release 241, 57-67

Parasite proteins exported to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized red blood cells (pRBCs) have a major role in severe malaria clinical manifestation, where pRBC cytoadhesion and rosetting processes have been strongly linked with microvascular sequestration while avoiding both spleen filtration and immune surveillance. The parasite-derived and pRBC surface-exposed PfEMP1 protein has been identified as one of the responsible elements for rosetting and, therefore, considered as a promising vaccine candidate for the generation of rosette-disrupting antibodies against severe malaria. However, the potential role of anti-rosetting antibodies as targeting molecules for the functionalization of antimalarial drug-loaded nanovectors has never been studied. Our manuscript presents a proof-of-concept study where the activity of an immunoliposomal vehicle with a dual performance capable of specifically recognizing and disrupting rosettes while simultaneously eliminating those pRBCs forming them has been assayed in vitro. A polyclonal antibody against the NTS-DBL1α N-terminal domain of a rosetting PfEMP1 variant has been selected as targeting molecule and lumefantrine as the antimalarial payload. After 30 min incubation with 2 μM encapsulated drug, a 70% growth inhibition for all parasitic forms in culture (IC50: 414 nM) and a reduction in ca. 60% of those pRBCs with a rosetting phenotype (IC50: 747 nM) were achieved. This immunoliposomal approach represents an innovative combination therapy for the improvement of severe malaria therapeutics having a broader spectrum of activity than either anti-rosetting antibodies or free drugs on their own.

JTD Keywords: Combination therapy, Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Rosetting, Targeted drug delivery


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Novel strategies for Plasmodium-targeted drug delivery Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery , 13, (7), 919-922

Moles, E., Urbán, P., Jiménez-Díaz, M. B., Viera-Morilla, S., Angulo-Barturen, I., Busquets, M. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2015). Immunoliposome-mediated drug delivery to Plasmodium-infected and non-infected red blood cells as a dual therapeutic/prophylactic antimalarial strategy Journal of Controlled Release 210, 217-229

One of the most important factors behind resistance evolution in malaria is the failure to deliver sufficiently high amounts of drugs to early stages of Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs). Despite having been considered for decades as a promising approach, the delivery of antimalarials encapsulated in immunoliposomes targeted to pRBCs has not progressed towards clinical applications, whereas in vitro assays rarely reach drug efficacy improvements above 10-fold. Here we show that encapsulation efficiencies reaching >96% are achieved for the weak basic drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine using the pH gradient loading method in liposomes containing neutral saturated phospholipids. Targeting antibodies are best conjugated through their primary amino groups, adjusting chemical crosslinker concentration to retain significant antigen recognition. Antigens from non-parasitized RBCs have also been considered as targets for the delivery to the cell of drugs not affecting the erythrocytic metabolism. Using this strategy, we have achieved unprecedented complete nanocarrier targeting to early intraerythrocytic stages of the malaria parasite for which there is a lack of specific extracellular molecular tags. Immunoliposomes studded with monoclonal antibodies raised against the erythrocyte surface protein glycophorin A were capable of targeting 100% RBCs and pRBCs at the low concentration of 0.5 μM total lipid in the culture, with >95% of added liposomes retained on cell surfaces. When exposed for only 15 min to Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures of early stages, free CQ had no significant effect on the viability of the parasite up to 200 nM, whereas immunoliposomal 50 nM CQ completely arrested its growth. In vivo assays in mice showed that immunoliposomes cleared the pathogen below detectable levels at a CQ dose of 0.5 mg/kg, whereas free CQ administered at 1.75 mg/kg was, at most, 40-fold less efficient. Our data suggest that this significant improvement is in part due to a prophylactic effect of CQ found by the pathogen in its host cell right at the very moment of invasion.

JTD Keywords: Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Castangia, I., Nácher, A., Caddeo, C., Merino, V., Díez-Sales, O., Catalán-Latorre, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Fadda, A. M., Manconi, M., (2015). Therapeutic efficacy of quercetin enzyme-responsive nanovesicles for the treatment of experimental colitis in rats Acta Biomaterialia 13, 216-227

Biocompatible quercetin nanovesicles were developed by coating polyethylene glycol-containing vesicles with chitosan and nutriose, aimed at targeting the colon. Uncoated and coated vesicles were prepared using hydrogenated soy phosphatidylcholine and quercetin, a potent natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant drug. Physicochemical characterization was carried out by light scattering, cryogenic microscopy and X-ray scattering, the results showing that vesicles were predominantly multilamellar and around 130 nm in size. The in vitro release of quercetin was investigated under different pH conditions simulating the environment of the gastrointestinal tract, and confirmed that the chitosan/nutriose coating improved the gastric resistance of vesicles, making them a potential carrier system for colon delivery. The preferential localization of fluorescent vesicles in the intestine was demonstrated using the In Vivo FX PRO Imaging System. Above all, a marked amelioration of symptoms of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid-induced colitis was observed in animals treated with quercetin-loaded coated vesicles, favoring the restoration of physiological conditions. Therefore, quercetin-loaded chitosan/nutriose-coated vesicles can represent a valuable therapeutic tool for the treatment of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, and presumably a preventive system, due to the synergic action of antioxidant quercetin and beneficial prebiotic effects of the chitosan/nutriose complex.

JTD Keywords: Chitosan/nutriose complex, Colon targeting, Phospholipid vesicles, Quercetin, Rat colitis


Moles, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2015). Loading antimalarial drugs into noninfected red blood cells: An undesirable roommate for Plasmodium Future Medicinal Chemistry 7, (7), 837-840

The malaria parasite, Plasmodium spp., is a delicate unicellular organism unable to survive in free form for more than a couple of minutes in the bloodstream. Upon injection in a human by its Anopheles mosquito vector, Plasmodium sporozoites pass through the liver with the aim of invading hepatocytes. Those which succeed spend inside their host cell a recovery time before replicating and entering the blood circulation as fragile merozoites, although their exposure to host defenses is extraordinarily short. Quick invasion of red blood cells (RBCs) in a process lasting just a few minutes allows the parasite to escape immune system surveillance. For most of its erythrocytic cycle the pathogen feeds mainly on hemoglobin as it progresses from the early blood stages, termed rings, to the late forms trophozoites and schizonts. Early stages are ideal targets for antimalarial therapies because drugs delivered to them would have a longer time to kill the parasite before it completes its development. However, only 6 h after invasion does the permeability of the infected erythrocyte to anions and small nonelectrolytes, including some drugs, start to increase as the parasite matures [1]. During this maturation process the parasite hydrolyzes hemoglobin in a digestive vacuole, which is the target of many amphiphilic drugs that freely cross the RBC membrane and accumulate intracellularly. As a result, most antimalarials start affecting the infected cell relatively late in the intraerythrocytic parasite life cycle, when their effect is probably often too short to be lethal to Plasmodium.

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery , 5, (10), 1049-1052

Movellan, J., Urbán, P., Moles, E., de la Fuente, J. M., Sierra, T., Serrano, J. L., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Amphiphilic dendritic derivatives as nanocarriers for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Biomaterials 35, (27), 7940-7950

It can be foreseen that in a future scenario of malaria eradication, a varied armamentarium will be required, including strategies for the targeted administration of antimalarial compounds. The development of nanovectors capable of encapsulating drugs and of delivering them to Plasmodium-infected cells with high specificity and efficacy and at an affordable cost is of particular interest. With this objective, dendritic derivatives based on 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)propionic acid (bis-MPA) and Pluronic® polymers have been herein explored. Four different dendritic derivatives have been tested for their capacity to encapsulate the antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine (PQ), their specific targeting to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs), and their antimalarial activity in vitro against the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and in vivo against the rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii. The results obtained have allowed the identification of two dendritic derivatives exhibiting specific targeting to pRBCs vs. non-infected RBCs, which reduce the in vitro IC50 of CQ and PQ by ca. 3- and 4-fold down to 4.0 nm and 1.1 μm, respectively. This work on the application of dendritic derivatives to antimalarial targeted drug delivery opens the way for the use of this new type of chemicals in future malaria eradication programs.

JTD Keywords: Antimalarial targeted drug delivery, Dendrimers, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polymeric nanoparticles


Urbán, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Mauro, N., Marques, J., Manfredi, A., Rottmann, M., Ranucci, E., Ferruti, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Use of poly(amidoamine) drug conjugates for the delivery of antimalarials to Plasmodium Journal of Controlled Release 177, (1), 84-95

Current malaria therapeutics demands strategies able to selectively deliver drugs to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) in order to limit the appearance of parasite resistance. Here, the poly(amidoamines) AGMA1 and ISA23 have been explored for the delivery of antimalarial drugs to pRBCs. AGMA1 has antimalarial activity per se as shown by its inhibition of the in vitrogrowth of Plasmodium falciparum, with an IC50 of 13.7 μM. Fluorescence-assisted cell sorting data and confocal fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy images indicate that both polymers exhibit preferential binding to and internalization into pRBCs versus RBCs, and subcellular targeting to the parasite itself in widely diverging species such as P. falciparum and Plasmodium yoelii, infecting humans and mice, respectively. AGMA1 and ISA23 polymers with hydrodynamic radii around 7 nm show a high loading capacity for the antimalarial drugs primaquine and chloroquine, with the final conjugate containing from 14.2% to 32.9% (w/w) active principle. Intraperitoneal administration of 0.8 mg/kg chloroquine as either AGMA1 or ISA23 salts cured P. yoelii–infected mice, whereas control animals treated with twice as much free drug did not survive. These polymers combining into a single chemical structure drug carrying capacity, low unspecific toxicity, high biodegradability and selective internalization into pRBCs, but not in healthy erythrocytes for human and rodent malarias, may be regarded as promising candidates deserving to enter the antimalarial therapeutic arena.

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymer-drug carriers, Targeted drug delivery


Marques, J., Moles, E., Urbán, P., Prohens, R., Busquets, M. A., Sevrin, C., Grandfils, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Application of heparin as a dual agent with antimalarial and liposome targeting activities toward Plasmodium-infected red blood cells Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 10, (8), 1719-1728

Heparin had been demonstrated to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) vs. non-infected erythrocytes. Here we have explored if both properties could be joined into a drug delivery strategy where heparin would have a dual role as antimalarial and as a targeting element of drug-loaded nanoparticles. Confocal fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy data show that after 30. min of being added to living pRBCs fluorescein-labeled heparin colocalizes with the intracellular parasites. Heparin electrostatically adsorbed onto positively charged liposomes containing the cationic lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane and loaded with the antimalarial drug primaquine was capable of increasing three-fold the activity of encapsulated drug in Plasmodium falciparum cultures. At concentrations below those inducing anticoagulation of mouse blood in vivo, parasiticidal activity was found to be the additive result of the separate activities of free heparin as antimalarial and of liposome-bound heparin as targeting element for encapsulated primaquine. From the Clinical Editor: Malaria remains an enormous global public health concern. In this study, a novel functionalized heparin formulation used as drug delivery agent for primaquine was demonstrated to result in threefold increased drug activity in cell cultures, and in a murine model it was able to provide these benefits in concentrations below what would be required for anticoagulation. Further studies are needed determine if this approach is applicable in the human disease as well.

JTD Keywords: Heparin, Liposomes, Malaria, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery, Heparin, Malaria, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery, Liposomes, 1,2 dioleoyl 3 trimethylammoniopropane, fluorescein, heparin, liposome, nanoparticle, primaquine, adsorption, animal experiment, anticoagulation, antimalarial activity, Article, binding affinity, confocal microscopy, controlled study, drug targeting, encapsulation, erythrocyte, female, fluorescence microscopy, human, human cell, in vivo study, liposomal delivery, mouse, nonhuman, Plasmodium falciparum, transmission electron microscopy


Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Amyloid fibrils in neurodegenerative diseases: villains or heroes? Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (16), 1903-1906

Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Heparin-functionalized nanocapsules: Enabling targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (7), 737-739

Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets , 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

JTD Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting


Torrents, E., Sjoberg, B. M., (2010). Antibacterial activity of radical scavengers against class Ib ribonucleotide reductase from Bacillus anthracis Biological Chemistry , 391, (2-3), 229-234

Bacillus anthracis is a severe mammalian pathogen. The deoxyribonucleotides necessary for DNA replication and repair are provided via the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) enzyme. RNR is also important for spore germination and cell proliferation upon infection. We show that the expression of B. anthracis class Ib RNR responds to the environment that the pathogen encounters upon infection. We also show that several anti-proliferative agents (radical scavengers) specifically inhibit the B. anthracis RNR. Owing to the importance of RNR in the pathogenic infection process, our results highlight a promising potential to inhibit the growth of B. anthracis early during infection.

JTD Keywords: Anthrax, Antibacterial drug, Antibacterial target, Enzyme inhibition