UMBC researchers develop a new approach to nano

When a person experiences a trauma that results in heavy bleeding, the first few minutes are crucial. It is important that they are given intravenous medication quickly to control the bleeding, but getting the medication at the right pace can be difficult. Slower infusions may cause fewer negative reactions, but the medicine may not work quickly enough, especially with severe trauma.

Four UMBC researchers have developed a unique way to modify the surfaces of nanoparticles in these vital drugs to provide infusions that can be given more quickly, but with a reduced risk of negative reactions. Infusion reactions can cause a variety of symptoms, such as rash and inflammatory reactions. This can include anaphylaxis, life-threatening respiratory failure. So far, the severity of these reactions has limited the use of promising nanodrugs, and reducing the likelihood of side effects could be a game-changer.

The heart of the matter

In an article recently published in Nano letters, Erin Lavik, professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering; Chuck bieberich, professor of biological sciences; Nuzhat Maisha, Ph.D. ’21, chemical engineering; and Michael rubenstein, MS ’14, Ph.D. ’22, biological sciences, discuss their new approach to research. They focused on the basic material of the nanoparticles delivered to patients.

“We found that using a polyurethane core reduced markers associated with infusion reactions,” says Lavik, who is also the associate dean for research and faculty development at the College of Engineering and UMBC information technology.

Currently, 7% of people experience infusion reactions, the authors note in their article. “These reactions … limit the treatments available in a substantial part of the patients”, they explain.

“We, like most experts in the field, have spent a lot of time trying to modify the surfaces of nanoparticles to modulate the reaction,” says Lavik. She shares that while this approach helps to some extent, going a step further by changing the base material seems to have a bigger impact.

Research by Lavik, Bieberich and their colleagues is laying the groundwork for future testing of preclinical models using nanocapsules to stop internal bleeding. Lavik explains that collaboration was an important part of this work.

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