Natural phenols, such as those found in chocolate, and minerals such as iron are being used to develop fast, economical drug-delivery capsules.
Frank Caruso and his team at The University of Melbourne are making nano-sized capsules that will encase vaccines and protect them from being broken down when entering the body. They believe that this delivery system will be biologically friendly and overcome a major challenge for medical materials: their compatibility with living systems.
One of the challenges of treating diseases such as cancer and HIV is delivering treatment with minimal damage to healthy areas.
Frank’s nanotechnology expertise allows him to carefully control the size and shape of the tiny particles, enabling more precise delivery to specific cells. And because the materials are already FDA-approved, Frank expects to be able to fast-track the drug development process.
Frank and his team are applying their work to a range of diseases and collaborations.
- delivering targeted HIV vaccines, working with physician/scientist Stephen Kent
- investigating cardiovascular disease with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
- delivering neurotrophins, which assist neuron survival, to hair cells in the inner ear with Rob Shepherd of the Bionics Institute
- investigating the delivery of cancer drugs and their efficacy at killing specific cancer cells.
The research is being conducted under the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology, of which Frank is Deputy Director.
He is also an ARC Australian laureate fellow.