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Movellan, J., Urbán, P., Moles, E., de la Fuente, J. M., Sierra, T., Serrano, J. L., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Amphiphilic dendritic derivatives as nanocarriers for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Biomaterials 35, (27), 7940-7950

It can be foreseen that in a future scenario of malaria eradication, a varied armamentarium will be required, including strategies for the targeted administration of antimalarial compounds. The development of nanovectors capable of encapsulating drugs and of delivering them to Plasmodium-infected cells with high specificity and efficacy and at an affordable cost is of particular interest. With this objective, dendritic derivatives based on 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)propionic acid (bis-MPA) and Pluronic® polymers have been herein explored. Four different dendritic derivatives have been tested for their capacity to encapsulate the antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine (PQ), their specific targeting to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs), and their antimalarial activity in vitro against the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and in vivo against the rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii. The results obtained have allowed the identification of two dendritic derivatives exhibiting specific targeting to pRBCs vs. non-infected RBCs, which reduce the in vitro IC50 of CQ and PQ by ca. 3- and 4-fold down to 4.0 nm and 1.1 μm, respectively. This work on the application of dendritic derivatives to antimalarial targeted drug delivery opens the way for the use of this new type of chemicals in future malaria eradication programs.

Keywords: Antimalarial targeted drug delivery, Dendrimers, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polymeric nanoparticles


Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets , 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting