London, June 29 (ANI): New peptide nanoparticles developed by researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of Singapore could pave the way for new methods of drug and gene delivery for the treatment of meningitis and drug-resistant bacteria and fungal infections.
The stable bioengineered nanoparticles effectively seek out and destroy bacteria and fungal cells that could cause fatal infections and are highly therapeutic.
Major brain infections like meningitis and encephalitis are leading causes of death, hearing loss, learning disability, and brain damage in patients.
Conversely, the peptide nanoparticles contain a membrane-penetrating component that enables them to pass through the blood brain barrier to the infected areas of the brain that require treatment.
IBN's peptide nanoparticles can traverse the blood brain barrier, thereby offering a superior alternative to existing treatments for brain infections.
The brain membrane is impenetrable to most conventional antibiotics because the molecular structure of most drugs is too big to enter the membrane.
"Our treatment damages the structure of the pathogen and literally breaks it apart," Nature magazine quoted Dr. Yiyan Yang, group leader at IBN, as saying.
He added: "Our oligopeptide has a unique chemical structure that forms nanoparticles with membranepenetrating components on their surface. These nanoparticles can easily enter bacteria, yeast or fungal cells and destabilize them to cause cell death. For example, the nanoparticles cause damage to bacteria cell walls and prevent further bacterial growth."
The researchers have demonstrated that these engineered peptide nanoparticles have high anti-microbial activity and are highly effective in killing microbes.
In addition, the peptide nanoparticles are more powerful in inhibiting the growth of fungal infections than conventionally available anti-fungal drugs such as fluconazole and amphotericin B.
"We are able to kill bacteria better than conventional antibiotics. By attacking the cellular structure of the microbes, our nanoparticles can be used to successfully combat persistant bacterial infections," added IBN scientist Dr. Lihong Liu.
Pre-clinical tests have shown that IBN's peptide nanoparticles are biocompatible, and cause no damage to the liver or kidneys at tested doses.
Highly anti-infective, the therapeutic doses of the peptide nanoparticles are expected to be safe for use because they also do not damage red blood cells.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. (ANI)