Research Highlights

Outsmarting disease using nanoparticles

Published online 26 September 2017

Scientists make versatile nanoparticles that can ferry drugs that can treat diseases like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s.

Biplab Das

A group of international researchers has created biocompatible nanoparticles that could treat various inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Neutral phosphorous dendrimers, a type of synthetic polymers with tree-like structures, work by suppressing certain types of triggers for inflammations, according to the new research published in PNAS1.

“Besides treating autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, these nanoparticles could be chemically modified to make drug carriers and even diagnostic probes,” says principal investigator Valentin Cena from the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. The team also included researchers from Morocco, France and Portugal.

Bacteria are known to generate strong immune responses, activating various immune cells such as macrophages, which secrete various inflammation-causing molecules. 

The nanoparticles highlighted in this study were able to reduce inflammation in mice and human macrophage cells by preventing the expression of a specific enzyme responsible for releasing inflammatory molecules.

The nanoparticles also showed remarkable efficiency to check inflammation in mice by stimulating the secretion of anti-inflammatory molecules. In addition, they are non-toxic, soluble and stable in aqueous solution.

The high number of modifiable chemical groups present on the surface of these nanoparticles opens the possibility of loading them with specific therapeutic molecules. This could help develop multifunctional therapeutic agents, the researchers say. 


  1. Posadas, I. et al. Neutral high-generation phosphorus dendrimers inhibit macrophage-mediated inflammatory response in vitro and in vivo. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2017)