From viruses to cancer, and large molecules to nanoparticles, Oklahoma State University hosts a wide range of experts in the growing field of drug delivery research.
“Drug delivery research and development is a burgeoning area nationwide, and OSU researchers are playing major roles in this important aspect of medical science,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research.
Drug delivery involves getting drugs to the parts of the body needing treatment. Some studies have shown as little as 0.7 percentage of doses actually reach the tumor in some methods of treating cancer, and other therapeutics may have as little as 20 percent efficacy through current delivery models. OSU experts are focusing on the delivery of therapeutic compounds with maximum precision, effectiveness and safety.
OSU faculty members in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences are focusing on the following drug delivery innovations:
- To attack diabetic eye diseases, the Dual Release Drug Delivery system is being developed within a thin, nanoparticle-loaded membrane on a contact lens, allowing greater penetration into the innermost layers of the eye.
- The Computational Biofluidic and Biomechanics Laboratory is developing a simulation process for pharmaceutical companies to more precisely target lung tumors. Current methods reach tumors with 20 percent accuracy and can damage healthy lung tissue. Initial studies indicate that tumors can be reached with greater than 90 percent accuracy using an OSU-developed “controlled air-drug stream.”
- The Systems Biomedicine and Pharmaceutics Laboratory develops, tests and refines computer models for the biochemical reactions and transport pathways of drugs throughout the body. Models are also being developed to better track disease progression.
- Technology is being developed for the delivery of large molecular drugs that can genetically modify viruses and render them harmless. This works by replacing segments of the virus’s DNA with therapeutic genes or fragments of DNA that can turn off defective genes. This lab is also investigating the delivery of proteins that can deactivate chemical warfare agents, even after exposure.
- OSU has spun out a private start-up company based on research on fluorinated compounds. Fluorine has shown unparalleled ability to move therapeutics throughout the body. However, fluorinated compounds are very difficult to produce and therefore very expensive. An OSU lab has found an inexpensive method to produce various fluorinated compounds for pharmaceutical companies to utilize, a development that should accelerate drug delivery innovation.
- Gold nanorods are being engineered by OSU researchers to increase their efficacy in biomedical applications. Research shows these nanorods promise to improve cell viability and cellular uptake to increase their therapeutic benefit.
- Understanding the toxicity of certain drugs constitutes a focus of OSU research. A laboratory within the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences investigates drugs that can protect against the toxicity of organophosphorus nerve agents, as well as drugs that can elicit toxicity to determine relative safety levels.
With multiple approaches to the array of diseases under study, the impact of OSU researchers in drug delivery can influence human and animal health across a wide range of diseases and toxins.
“Technologies that make drug interventions more precise can increase effectiveness with fewer side effects,” Sewell said. “That translates into curing diseases and saving lives. OSU is poised to be a leader in this important field of study.”