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Making tiny plastic particles to deliver lifesaving medicine

swallowed, it must pass through the stomach, where it may be degraded by digestive acids. Injections may avoid this problem, but they also are painful and may be difficult for some patients to administer to themselves. Inhalation, however, as smokers and asthmatics know, is generally a quick and painless method of getting a drug into the body. Still, Hanes noted, "the lungs are pretty sacred ground. You have to be very conservative about what you put in there."

As a doctoral student at MIT, Hanes played a leading role in developing porous polymer drug delivery particles coated with a special surfactant native to the lung. The surfactant is designed to fool the body into thinking these particles belong in the lungs, warding off an immune response. In 1999, Hanes and his colleagues received a U.S. patent for this invention; Hanes currently holds eight U.S. patents for advanced drug delivery applications.

At Johns Hopkins, he is building upon this research by synthesizing improved inhalation particles, each about a tenth of the diameter of a human hair. He soon hopes to begin testing their safety and effectiveness in animal models and eventually in human trials. Hanes also is trying to produce even smaller particles that could be used to deliver powerful medications directly into diseased cells, while leaving normal tissue unharmed.


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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
410-516-7160
Johns Hopkins University
26-Sep-2003


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