UCLA researchers develop drug efficacy improvement method

Francisella tularensis, the bacterium behind tularemia.
Francisella tularensis, the bacterium behind tularemia. | Courtesy of the CDC

Researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a delivery system for moxifloxacin, an antibiotic, utilizing nanoparticles, they announced Thursday.

The antibiotic is used to treat pneumonic forms of tularemia. In a study, the team found that the antibiotic stayed with the nanoparticle until it is dissolved through the macrophage process. This releases the drug. According to the team, led by study author Jeffrey Zink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, this process increases the drug’s effectiveness against the disease in animal models.

“[Francisella] tularensis survives and multiplies within macrophages, especially those in the liver, spleen and lung,” Marcus Horwitz, professor of medicine and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and the study’s co-author, said. “Macrophages readily devour mesoporous silica nanoparticles, making these particles ideal for treating these types of infections.”

This bacteria species is considered to be on the highest tier of potential biological agents that pose a threat to national security and public health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that tularemia is highly contagious and can be fatal in some forms. They also state that the pneumonic form of the disease is the most severe.

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University of California- Los Angeles

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