Feb 20, 2013 2:26 AM GMT
Researchers have reduced blood alcohol levels in intoxicated mice by injecting them with nanocapsules containing enzymes that are instrumental in alcohol metabolism. The treatment demonstrates a novel drug delivery technology that could have broad medical applications.
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze a wide range of biological processes in the body, making them attractive candidates as therapeutics. Many important biological functions require precisely arranged groups of different enzymes working in concert, often inside a cellular subcomponent called an organelle. Though researchers have tried for years to develop such complexes in the lab, it has proved extremely difficult to maintain stable proteins and precisely control their size and arrangement.
The new research, which was described today in Nature Nanotechnology, involves packaging multiple enzymes inside a nanoscale shell. The resulting functional enzyme complex, made of a nontoxic polymer, “almost mimics an organelle,” says Yunfeng Lu, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UCLA, who lead the research with Cheng Ji, a professor of biochemical and molecular biology at the University of Southern California. The capsule stabilizes the proteins and protects them against degrading in the body.