Contributes to the education of scientists qualified for developing both basic and applied research.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology study the phenomenon and manipulation of materials at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales, at which properties differ substantially from those observed at larger scales. Its scope extends to the full spectrum of the sciences and includes fields like medicine, physics, engineering, and chemistry. Owing to their applications, these disciplines constitutes important motors of the new industry and the knowledge society.
Most drugs used today are orally administered and are distributed via the blood stream to all tissues; notwithstanding, the medicines are needed at specific cell targets. The pharmaceutical industry has traditionally attempted to minimize toxic and not desirable side-effects through molecular engineering, via the improvement of drug delivery and distribution avoiding toxic effects and reaching sustained and stable plasma concentration throughout drug treatment. These problems can be minimized by time programmed and site-directed delivery of drugs. For sustained and targeted drug delivery treatments, we plan to use nanoparticles (NPs) encapsulated in synthetic or natural polymers, a strategy proved to cause controlled, slow drug release delivery reaching stable plasma concentrations. NPs can also be used for site-directed drug delivery to tumors for example. Another useful strategy is to formulate NPs endowed with electromagnetic properties coupled to the use of magnets localized properly in the close proximity of the target organ, allowing accumulation of NPs in the targeted tissue. Such NPs will first be assayed first in in-vitro tumour cell cultures ensuring their accumulation in the cells endowed with proper mechanisms of endocytosis to the tissue cells. Promising drugs loaded in NPs that pass preclinical and environmental toxicology will enter future in-vivo pharmacokinetic studies.
In such a case, NPs alone and drug-loaded NPs will be tested separately. Depending on the intended application, these promising medicines will be administered in-vivo using experimental animals, considering the special needs and pharmacological opportunities of each novel component. Blood, fecal and urinary concentration of the administered NPs or their components will be assessed in normal healthy experimental animals. In order to assess specific tissue accumulation, NPs will be labeled with a tracer that allows their detection without invasive procedures (i.e. technecium), or alternatively will be administered to subjects scheduled for surgical extirpation of the selected tissue.
Additional new studies
Parallel studies, developed within the past few years, will focus on the use of natural NPs polymers as potential anti-obesity and/or anti-lipidemic drugs. Parallel studies are addressing anti-inflammatory effects of xanthines to modulate the body response to chronic neuropathic pain. In addition, a new line of progress is related to the use of natural products derived from an Antartica plant to act as a solar screen as a potential medicine to reduce the detrimental skin effects of high solar radiation. This formulation will imply the possible combined use of a natural product with a free radical trap profile plus an anti-oxidant agent.Promising results will allow the prompt formulation of these chemical(s) as NPs to protect human skin from UV radiation. Emerging opportunities include the preparation of weed extracts with anti hervicide properties as well as antimicrobial activity.
Moreover, another line of research includes an effort related to natural products with an antiviral profile of local endemic Chilean plants.
Improvement of farm animals
In the context of this proposal, we will develop NPs loaded with drugs, such as asthaxantine or antibiotics to improve the rate of assimilation of these drugs that will next be incorporated into feeding pellets of farm animals assuring stable plasma contents. Herein, we plan to improve the quality of products used in aquaculture and swine farming.
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