Prescription nanoreactors

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a nanoreactor that can synthesise and release the antibiotic cephalexin, which is used to treat bacterial infections.

Lowering the drug dose required to effectively treat a patient would save money and reduce side effects. To achieve this, one area of research is focusing on using a ‘prodrug’ approach in which less toxic substrates, or prodrugs, are given to a patient and are converted to the active drug form by an enzyme only at a specific site.

To maintain its catalytic activity, the enzyme needs to be protected from the surrounding environment, but also be accessible to the prodrug and able to release the final active drug.

Wolfgang Meier and colleagues at the University of Basel have designed a biocompatible nanoreactor that can effectively protect an enzyme. The nanoreactor comprises a copolymer, an outer membrane protein from bacteria cells (OmpF) and the catalyst penicillin acylase. When mixed together, the copolymer self assembles into vesicles forming, along with the membrane protein, a membrane around the catalyst that allows passage of molecules such as a drug and substrates.

Read the whole Chemistry World story or download the full ChemComm article:

Communication Polymer nanoreactors shown to produce and release antibiotics locally
Karolina Langowska , Cornelia G. Palivan and Wolfgang Meier
Chem. Commun., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2CC36345C

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