NOV 04, 2019 10:26 AM PST

How Fluorescent Probes Can Enhance Drug Delivery

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Researchers at Cornell University are working on improving the trial-and-error process that is implicated in finding effective molecules for drug delivery. Specifically, researchers have developed a technique that employs florescent probes that enhances the drug delivery method by giving scientists a unique look inside cells. Study authors are hopeful that their technique can advance through pharmaceutical partnerships.

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“For the biomolecular engineers and companies that have a target in mind, we can … make the drug discovery process that much faster because we now know something about how long it’s going to take to release the drug,” says research team leader, Chris Alabi.

Current drug delivery systems control how therapeutics are released inside the body which involves how a particular molecule that ‘links’ to another in the body, like an antibody on cancer cells. “Right now, pharmaceutical companies make a ton of linkers and then see which functions best for a particular application by having to test each one. It’s a shotgun approach,” said Alabi, am associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “With our technique, they can now make an informed decision based on actual intracellular numbers, before they put the drug system together.”

The researchers tested their fluorescent probes to measure the rate at which linkers successfully release drugs in living cells. Findings were published in the research a paper “Responsive Antibody Conjugates Enable Quantitative Determination of Intracellular Bond Degradation Rate,” seen in the journal Cell Chemical Biology.

Image retrieved via Cornell University (Credit)

“Once we know what the timing is for different linker bonds and cell processes, then we can say, ‘OK, for drug A connected to antibody B, this is how long it will take, so if we want to treat disease C, we should use this linker,’” Alabi said. “The probes can also be used by chemical biologists to learn more about intracellular processes, such as the specific agents responsible for cleaving linkers.”

Source: Cornell University

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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