By Cameron Chai
In a study reported in PLoS ONE, Gordana Vitaliano, who serves as Director of the McLean Hospital Imaging Center’s Brain Imaging NaNoTechnology Group, has described the modification of a common protein called clathrin as a nanoparticle for use in in-vivo studies.
Clathrin delivers various molecule types into the body cells. Vitaliano has exploited clathrin’s transport capabilities for medical imaging and drug delivery, resulting in the development of a new class of green nanoparticles that is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier non-invasively without modifications or enhancers.
Vitaliano functionalized clathrin nanoparticles by bonding various fluorescent labels utilized in imaging. The study results demonstrated the non-invasive delivery of the clathrin nanoparticles into the central nervous system (CNS) in animals. These results pave the way to study new and key CNS medical applications.
One of the key applications of the clathrin nanoparticles is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In one configuration, the functionalized clathrin nanoparticles demonstrated 8,000 folds better performance when compared to gadopentetate dimeglumine, a MRI contrast agent approved by the FDA. This result proved the contribution of clathrin nanoparticles in lowering the toxicity level of gadolinium as they reduced the concentrations of gadolinium needed for MRI. Hence, clathrin transported gadolinium is a better biocompatible contrast agent available today, said Vitaliano.
The use of the clathrin nanoparticles in two different applications proved their transport flexibility and functionalization. Hence, purified clathrin nanoparticles are an ideal replacement for other clinical nanoplatforms, including liposomes, solid lipid nanospheres, nanogels, dendrimers, and much more.
Considering the requirement for new CNS drug delivery capabilities, Vitaliano’s research will not be useful for scientists involved in neuroscience and neuroimaging but also for biomedical researchers, material scientists, physicists, chemists, bioengineers, radiologists and other scientists working in the drug delivery and imaging fields.