Red Blood Cell-Hitchhiking for Targeted Drug Delivery

Drug delivery utilizing nanocarriers (NCs) as a targeted approach has been actively pursued; however, even with the use of different affinity moieties such as antibodies to improve targeting and reduce off-target toxicity, NCs are predominately taken up in the liver and have limited accumulation in targeted organs. The ability to target systemically delivered drugs would address a host of issues in patients with acute critical illness including acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pulmonary embolism, and acute ischemic stroke. These critically ill patients have particularly poor outcomes largely resulting from side effects due to the involvement of multiple organ systems.

Technology: Researchers in the Mitragotri lab combined nanomedicine with cell therapy developing red blood cell (RBC)-hitchhiking NCs. This concept of hitchhiking improves delivery for a wide range of NCs, including viral vectors, without causing RBC or end-organ toxicities. RBC-hitchhiking NCs injected intravenously increases liposome uptake in the lungs by ~40-fold compared with free nanocarriers. A variety of therapeutics including small molecules, peptides, and antibodies can be delivered in a targeted manner to the lungs using this approach.

Advantages: Systemic delivery. Accumulation in target organ. Low accumulation in off-target organs. The properties of RBC-hitchhiking will benefit critical illnesses by delivering high concentrations of drugs to target organs affected by severe, acute pathologies, especially lungs. RBC hitchhiking is a clinically translatable platform that can improve drug delivery in acute lung disease, stroke, and several other diseases that currently lack effective therapies. In addition, as all components of this technology are FDA approved, there is a low barrier to approval.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending