Novel nanoparticles penetrate fruit flies' brains; people's may be next

Fruit flies in Buffalo are unwitting pioneers in the push to use nanoparticles for delivering drugs to the brain.

University at Buffalo's Shermali Gunawardena and her team of scientists have successfully used the novel ormosil class of nanoparticles to penetrate the insects' brains. The particles are homegrown, also designed at the state university's Buffalo campus and made of organically modified silica. Each contains cavities in which drugs can be held and released after light exposure.

I know what you're thinking. Success in the fruit fly study, which is detailed in the journal PLoS One, may not seem like a lot. But it is. As always, such a finding must be reproduced in animal and ultimately human studies. But it is a good sign that a class of nanoparticles can penetrate the notoriously difficult blood-brain barrier. On another promising note, the flies did not seem at all harmed by their prolonged exposure to the nanoparticles.

So what could they be used for? Gunawardena wants to treat Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease with the nanoparticles. Those diseases feature excess accumulation of amyloid proteins and Lewy bodies, the researchers note. So the nanoparticles could (theoretically) deliver drugs to hit those protein buildups along the axons in the brain. In theory, if the protein accumulation is broken up, then you have a way to treat diseases that have defied attempts to find a solution.

- here's the release

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