University of Louisville research

US research into fruit for less toxic drug delivery

Researchers from the University of Louisville have found a less toxic way to deliver medicines by using the natural lipids in various plants, particularly grapefruit and ginger.

The property portfolio consisting of 12 patent families, invented by Huang-Ge Zhang, Ph.D., of UofL's James Graham Brown Cancer Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Patents have been licensed to Boston-based Senda BioSciences, a Flagship Pioneering company.

The UofL technologies use exosomes, which are very small fragments of living, edible plant cells, to transport various therapeutic agents, including anti-cancer drugs, DNA/RNA and proteins such as antibodies. These exosomes help ensure the drug is properly absorbed by the body.

The exosomes made from fruit lipids also can be modified to target and deliver medications to specific cell types within the body. For example, the exosomes could be engineered to deliver a cancer therapeutic directly to cancer cells.

Zhang originally experimented with other fruits, including tomatoes and grapes. But one of his biggest breakthroughs was with grapefruits. The results of that work later were published in multiple scientific journals, including Nature Communications and Cell Host & Microbe, and now are exclusively licensed to Sen-da Biosciences.


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