Drug and Gene Delivery to Mucosal Surfaces

J. Hanes
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, US

Keywords: cancer nanotechnology


The controlled delivery of bioactive molecules to target tissues can significantly improve drug effectiveness while reducing side effects by concentrating medicine at selected sites in the body. Mucus layers coat and protect nearly all entry points into the body that are not coated by skin. Until recently, human mucus was thought to be nearly impenetrable to drug delivery particles even as small as 59 nm in diameter. Particles that become trapped in mucus are typically rapidly cleared from the organ of interest, usually within minutes to a few hours. Thus, while the barrier properties of mucus provide outstanding protection against infection and other potentially toxic substances, they have also thwarted efforts to achieve uniform and sustained drug and gene delivery to mucosal surfaces. This talk will focus on our work to understand the length-scale dependent and adhesion-mediated barrier properties of mucosal fluids, and how this knowledge has guided the development of polymeric nanoparticulate carriers, called ''mucus-penetrating nanoparticles,'' capable of improved drug and gene delivery to the respiratory tract, female reproductive tract, gastrointestinal tract, surface of the eye, and other mucosal tissues. Application of this technology to cancer will also be discussed.