India researchers pursue nanoparticle rabies treatment

Scientists are seeking health department clearance in India to begin testing a rabies treatment in humans that uses silver nanoparticles to deliver itself to the brain.

The Times of India reports on the details. Researchers at the Madurai Kamaraj University are seeking the regulatory approval based on previous work with nanoparticles in the lab.

Biotechnology professor Anitha Sironmani tells The Times that she made her discovery based on research on treatment for "foot and mouth" disease in cattle. She said that the silver nanoparticles show enormous promise and have the potential to control hundreds of different microbes and attach to them in a multi-targeted fashion, making it difficult for them to develop resistance. She believes the same pattern can be followed for rabies.

Rabies is nasty (an understatement, it's true). Think foaming at the mouth and crazy wild animals that usually are shy and not aggressive with humans until becoming infected. Rabies eventually destroys the central nervous system and can even affect the salivary glands, (think foaming at the mouth). Humans can contract the virus through saliva, like the bite from an infected animal or pet.

But a vaccine can prevent it and some can combat the virus at least in its early stages. Those drugs, however, don't target brain cells sufficiently in the advanced stages of rabies, during which the disease becomes fatal in humans, Sironmani notes. But she claims that "specially prepared nanoparticles" can cross the stubborn brain-blood barrier and make sure a treatment reaches the brain in sufficient volumes.

If she's successful, I wonder if there's a drug company that would swoop up a technology transfer license to pursue the idea further? There's at least one other effort looking to combat the virus once it reaches the brain--a vaccine now being tested by Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

- here's the story

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