Nanoparticles made from natural lipids found in grapefruit that could be used as drug delivery vehicles are reported in Nature Communications this week. The work reports that these nanoparticles are less toxic than those made of synthetic lipids and, with modification, they allow for tissue specific delivery of drugs.
Although the use of nanotechnology for the delivery of a wide range of medical treatments has potential to reduce adverse effects associated with drug therapy, nanoparticles made from synthetic materials can present unwanted side effects. Huang-Ge Zhang and colleagues show that large quantities of nanoparticles can be created using lipids derived from grapefruits, which they call grapefruit-derived nanovectors (GNVs). They demonstrate in a mouse model that that the GNVs can efficiently deliver a variety of therapeutic agents, including anti-cancer drugs, DNA and proteins such as antibodies. They note that GNVs can also be modified to achieve specific cellular targeting. Treatment of animals with GNVs seemed to cause less adverse effects than treatment with drugs encapsulated in synthetic lipids. The authors suggest that their nanovectors derived from edible grapefruit tissue may be more biocompatible due to the biodegradable nature of the material.
This study shows the potential of grapefruit-based nanovectors for drug delivery but future studies will be needed to test whether this method leads to successful treatment in humans.