South African researchers examine TB drug delivery

The Southern Times, a newspaper in Southern Africa, reports on the problems associated with treating tuberculosis in developing countries, as well as a possible homegrown solution.

The problem: Patients often have to travel long distances for a nurse to make sure they are taking the drugs for months on end. So, patients often give up before completing the course. The solution: incorporating the drugs into nanoparticles so they are released slowly into a patient's bloodstream, raising the possibility that daily pills could be replaced with a single weekly dose.

The stakes are high. Nanotechnology research, especially in developing nations, is not cheap. But TB is one of the leading causes of adult death in South Africa, with approximately 460,000 new cases in 2007, according to the World Health Organization.

What researchers are doing is using the body's own defenses to transport TB drugs around. White blood cells take up nanoparticles because they look like foreign objects and, effectively, transport them throughout the body while releasing their cargo, Hulda Swai, senior scientist at CSIR's Centre for Polymer Technology, told the paper. The TB-drug-infused nanoparticles are being tested in mice now.

- see the full story in The Southern Times

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