Spider silk being used as a drug delivery vehicle
Biospectrum published this today.
"A team of scientists from the universities of Geneva, Freiburg, Munich and Bayreuth has developed spider silk microcapsules capable of delivering vaccine directly to the heart of immune cells.
Scientists used synthetic spider silk biopolymers which is a lightweight, biocompatible, non-toxic material highly resistant to degradation from light and heat.
Silk microparticles form a transport capsule that protects the vaccine peptide from rapid degradation in the body, and delivers the peptide to the center of the lymph node cells, thereby considerably increasing T lymphocyte immune responses."
This is a pretty exciting development in drug delivery, particularly in the area of peptides. There has always been an issue with delivery of peptides, as the oral route of administration is removed since the gastro-intestinal tract is designed to metabolise peptides.
The story published discussed that the team of researchers had shown that the silk works for smaller peptides, but usually larger peptides are used for therapeutics and vaccines. The technology should be functional for larger peptides/proteins but is yet to be tested.
There are a number of exciting drug delivery projects being undertaken in the world right now like micro-encapsulation, and nano-patches. Unfortunately the drug development regulatory space is quite slow in terms of accepting new developments (it's because everything needs to be properly trialled before use in humans). So we probably won't see any of these developments in the clinic for 15-20 years.
Still, it's great to see such progress in novel delivery projects.