Purdue University researchers have developed a method of using nanoparticles to help treat injured brain and spinal cord cells. A team led by Richard Borgens of the School of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Paralysis Research and Welden School of Biomedical Engineering coated silica nanoparticles with a polymer to target and repair injured guinea pig spinal cords. The team then used the coated nanoparticles to deliver both the polymer and hydralazine to cells with secondary damage from a naturally produced toxin.

Borgens and his team introduced acrolein into cells and then treated the cells with different combinations of hydralazine and/or PEG delivered by the mesoporous silica nanoparticles. PEG specifically targets damaged cells and heals the injured area, further reducing damage. It also helps restore cell function, Borgens noted.

The team concluded that the use of nanoparticles to deliver both PEG and hydralazine increased the effectiveness of earlier PEG-only treatment by controlling and concentrating release of the drug and the polymer, producing a dual treatment and prolonging the treatment's duration. The researchers are now testing the PEG/hydralazine treatment on rats with brain injuries. By the year's end, they hope to test the treatment on naturally injured paraplegic dogs.

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