"Smart" nanocapsules created for protein drug delivery

Nanocapsules made up of a single-protein core and a thin polymer shell have been developed as a new intracellular delivery platform at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The researchers say this new delivery platform can be used to transport a range of proteins directly into cells, where they can replace damaged proteins. This new technology skirts one of the chief hurdles for protein therapies: avoiding cells' protease enzymes that eat them up. The tiny, permeable polymer membrane keeps the protein stable and safe from enzymes, effectively delivering its payload precisely where it's needed.

"For proteins in general, it's very difficult to cross the cell membrane. The protease will usually digest it, making stability an issue," said lead study author and UCLA professor Yunfeng Lu. "Here, we've been able to use this new technology to stabilize the protein, making it very easy to cross the cell membrane, allowing the protein to function properly once inside the cell. This is one of our biggest achievements."

Professor Lily Wu says the technology can be applied to the delivery of a wide range of protein drugs. "I think the important next step is to apply this technology in a relevant, preclinical disease model. Based on the promising results of improved efficiency of delivery into cells, I anticipate improved efficacy in preclinical animal models as well."

- here's the story from The Future of Things