What if your trusty inhaler had more uses than protecting you when ragweed was at its peak? What if, in fact, it could help regrow your damaged lungs?
That’s the goal of a joint effort between UT Arlington and UT Southwestern. Researchers are developing a new drug-delivery system woven with nanoparticles that can dispense needed substances to help stimulate lung growth and function after partial lung removal or destructive lung disease. These nanoparticles, invisible to the naked eye, would be delivered via an inhaler.
“We’ve had some very good results using our nanoparticles to deliver various therapeutic reagents,” says bioengineering Associate Professor Kytai Nguyen.
The polymer used to house the drugs will degrade with time, allowing the drugs to be released within the lung. Magnetic or fluorescent labels may be incorporated into the nanoparticles as tracers initially, but omitted in final therapeutic formulations.
While transplantation is the only cure for destructive lung disease, researchers hope to amplify the lung’s innate potential for regrowth. Once the drugs are delivered, they could measure therapeutic response with non-invasive imaging, physiological testing and structural analysis.