The present invention relates to the field of nanotechnology and, more particularly, to the field of delivery of active agents such as therapeutic and/or imaging agents using micro/nanoscale particles. Porous particles, such as porous silicon particles and porous silica particles, have a number of applications including use as drug delivery carriers. A need exists to develop new types of porous particles and new methods of using them for the treatment of diseases such as cancer.

The invention is a delivery platform that involves combining a delivery system comprising at least one micro or nano particle with a stem cell. A platform may be used for the treatment and diagnosis of inflammatory disorders. This combinational platform may enable the selective and timely release of an active agent, such as a therapeutic and/or imaging agent, at the site of inflammation. Although literature shows several approaches that detail using stem cells for the delivery of diagnostic agents, few provide therapeutic relief and home to the target as the present stem cells (nearly 100% of the injected dose accumulates at the tumor site in cancer models). The present invention may allow the delivery of the multistage delivery systems and also provide the means for delivering other micro or nano particle-based formulations (not necessarily multistage ones) within stem cells.

The invention may be useful not only for cancer treatment, but also for site-specific, individualized therapy for a multitude of inflammatory diseases. The stem cell delivery platform may substantially impact patient care and provide a strategy that may significantly decrease harsh side effects and avoid unnecessary costs by offering the ability to assess the efficacy early during the course of treatment, allowing for prompt interventions and a switch to an alternative therapeutic strategy.

The invention may be advantageous to current delivery systems through the decoupling of the targeting and therapy components into separate components. The invention does not rely on the decoration of common recognition molecules to target the micro/nano particle-based delivery system. Such a multistage delivery system allows the molecules to be carried to the target site, such as the tumor site or an inflammation site, protected by a stem cell such as ASC. This could lead to the accumulation of at least 70% of the injected dose of the delivery systems at the target site. The active localization of the stem-cell-directed delivery system may be advantageous over current approaches, which at best only deliver a tiny fraction of the injected dose to the tumor. Furthermore, the stem cells may be derived in large quantities from a patient and safely used in transplantation applications after minimal manipulation. These cells may be recruited by an inflammatory signal enabling their use as universal carriers for a multitude of conditions associated with inflammation.

This work was done by Jonathan O. Martinez, Mikhail G. Kolonin, Ennio Tasciotti, and Mauro Ferrari of the University of Texas Health Science Center for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24869-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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