With gold nanoparticles: scientists create technology to test Alzheimer’s drugs
Researchers from the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile developed a system based on gold nanoparticles that facilitate the permeation of drugs through the blood-brain barrier of the brain.
Researchers from the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile and the Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases (ACCDiS ), together with scientists from the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia, in Barcelona, created a device that simulates the blood-brain barrier of the brain.
The system, developed on the basis of a gold nanoparticle technology formulated at the U. of Chile, will allow testing and studying the effectiveness and safety of drugs against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Sujey Palma, a Chemistry and Pharmacy graduate from the University of Chile, who did her thesis on gold nanoparticles encapsulated in exosomes as “drug delivery” agents, went to Spain to specialize, where she joined a collaborative project between Professor Marcelo Kogan, from the University of Chile, and Professor Josep Samitier, from the University of Barcelona.
The professional began to collaborate in the nano-bioengineering team, led by Dr. Mónica Mir and Dr. Anna Lagunas and with them, she explains, “we began to work on a device to simulate the motor-brain barrier, which consists of a microchip with a 3D platform composed of a hydrogel, We started working on a device to simulate the motor-brain barrier, which consists of a microchip with a 3D platform composed of a hydrogel, both with human astrocytes and pericytes, which are cells that can be found in the brain, and also with endothelial cells, which are the ones that form the blood vessels in the brain and are responsible for the passage of drugs from the bloodstream to the brain.
“We continue the previous project by testing the gold nanoparticles developed in the laboratory of Professor Marcelo Kogan, which consists of a nanosystem of gold nanoparticles coated with two peptides, one that would be helping the passage of drugs through the blood-brain barrier, which is the big obstacle facing current therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, and another peptide that would be helping to prevent the aggregation of beta myeloid myeloid, which is one of the hotmarts for neurodegenerative diseases, which is the major obstacle facing current therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, and another peptide that would be helping to prevent the aggregation of beta myeloid, which is one of the hotmarts in Alzheimer’s disease,” he says.
Sujey Palma adds that, as part of the PhD that he is now doing at the University of Barcelona, in the Biomedicine program, “we inject these gold nanoparticles and evaluate their permeability through the device to see if indeed the strategies that are being used to increase the arrival to the brain are effective, and also to evaluate, thanks to some sensors that we have developed in the group, to see if these nano systems could also be generating some positive or negative effect on the blood-brain barrier”.
Detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
The professor of the Department of Pharmacological and Toxicological Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile, Marcelo Kogan, explains that his work is part of a Fondecyt project with which they seek to develop a system that allows the detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The specialist explains that “this system is based on the use of gold nanoparticles that allow us, in some way, to detect the presence of amyloid aggregates that form in early stages of the disease and also to undo these aggregates”.
“It is very important, when developing these systems, to be able to test, prior to animal studies and patient studies, whether these systems can enter the nervous system, the brain, where amyloid aggregation occurs. So, in order to do that, we teamed up with a group from the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia, with Professor Samitier and the researchers Mónica Mir and Anna Lagunas, in a project that has to do with the development of a device that makes it possible to simulate the blood-brain barrier,” the main protective wall of the brain.
Kogan also highlights the participation of Sujey Palma in this collaboration, who “traveled to Barcelona to do his master’s degree and the result of his master’s degree is this publication in which a device was used to test if our system can cross the blood-brain barrier”. For the same reason, he emphasizes that “this is very important because it allows us to evaluate different systems before moving on to preclinical and clinical studies”.
This new advance is in addition to the findings led by the team from the University of Chile, headed by Professor Kogan, which in 2021 announced, in the journal Biomaterials Science, this formula based on gold nanoparticles for the detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The technology seeks to generate a system for the diagnosis and treatment of this disease and to counteract the development of amyloid plaques, proteins secreted by the brain that are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.