Mucus-penetrating Particles

nanoparticlesAll exposed entry points to the body (e.g. the airways, gastrointestinal tract, female reproductive tract, eyes) are coated with mucus. Mucus protects our epithelial surfaces and traps and removes foreign particulates and pathogens to keep us healthy. Nanoparticles are of similar size to most viruses, meaning that mucus can effectively trap and remove them from the body. If nanoparticles are quickly removed by natural clearance mechanisms, then their benefits, such as sustained release of medications over hours to days, protection of medications from degradation, and specific targeting, cannot be realized. At the Center for Nanomedicine at Wilmer, we design nanoparticles and gene vectors that can penetrate mucus barriers, or “mucus-penetrating particles” (MPP). The coating on the surface of MPP that gives them “mucus-penetrating” ability also makes them non-toxic. The MPP technology has been licensed and is being developed for applications in the lungs and on the surface of the eye (see Commercialization). The CNM is also actively developing MPP for various indications, including treatment of various cancers, numerous women’s health applications, various inflammatory and genetic conditions in the airways, and others (see Research).

Selected Publications

  • Lai SK, O’Hanlon ED, Harrold S, Man ST, Wang YY, Cone R, Hanes J (2007) Rapid transport of large polymeric nanoparticles in fresh undiluted human mucus. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 104 (5): 1482-1487.
  • Ensign LM, Tang BC, Wang Y-Y, Tse TA, Hoen T, Cone R, and Hanes J (2012). Mucus-penetrating nanoparticles for vaginal drug delivery protect against herpes simplex virus. Science Translational Medicine, 4(138), p. 138ra79.
  • Kim AJ*, Boylan NB*, Suk JS, Hwangbo M, Yu T, Schuster BS, Cebotaru L, Lesniak WG, Oh JS, Adstamongkonkul P, Choi A, Kannan RM, Hanes J. Use of Single-site Functionalized PEG-dendrons to Prepare Gene Vectors that Penetrate Human Mucus Barriers. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 52(14):3985-8