Nanoparticle delivery helps fight lung disease

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Kytai Nguyen wants to help heal damaged lungs.

The bioengineering associate professor has teamed with Connie Hsia, internal medicine professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, on a nanoparticle drug-delivery system that will aid lung growth and function after partial lung removal or destructive lung disease.

The treatment introduces drugs through inhaled nanoparticles that stimulate lung growth and remodeling,” says Dr. Nguyen, who holds a joint appointment with UT Southwestern. “We are synthesizing biocompatible, biodegradable polymers that will encapsulate, or load, the drugs and release them where needed.”

The polymer that houses the drugs will degrade with time, allowing them to be released within the lung. Once the drugs are delivered via nanoparticles, the researchers will measure therapeutic response using noninvasive imaging, physiological testing, and detailed structural analysis.

Nguyen and Hsia hope their work will lead to better quality of life for people who have had part of their lungs removed.

This research is important because currently there is no definitive cure for most destructive lung diseases except transplantation,” Dr. Hsia says. “We have shown that partial lung removal may trigger regrowth of the remaining lung to compensate for the loss. By using nanoparticles as a vehicle for delivery of therapeutic compounds, we hope to amplify the lung’s innate potential for regrowth.”

Nguyen is working on the drug-delivery portion of the project, which is funded through 2016 by a $3.4 million National Institutes of Health grant.

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