University of Michigan scientists have developed a fine droplet water/oil emulsion, designed to be inhaled, that seems to be capable of destroying all sorts of pulmonary pathogens that commonly occur in patients with cystic fibrosis. Because the emulsion works by disrupting the outer membranes of bacteria, it is believed that bacterial resistance to this potential therapy cannot develop over time.
From the University of Michigan:
Nanoemulsions developed at Baker’s institute consist of soybean oil, water, alcohol and surfactants forced by high-stress mechanical extrusion into droplets less than 400 nanometers in size.
These emulsions have already proved to be non-toxic, potent killers of bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, H. influenzae and gonorrhea, of viruses such as herpes simplex and influenza A, and of several fungi. Nanoemulsion treatments for cold sores and toenail fungus are in Phase 3 clinical trials.
“We have a product that looks like it could be safely administered to the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis,” LiPuma says. If future trials show that patients can tolerate effective doses of the nanoemulsion, he adds, “This could be a major breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.”
The novel physical mode of action — the nanoemulsion appears to kill bacteria by disrupting their outer membranes – makes developing resistance unlikely, LiPuma says.
In cell cultures in the lab, the U-M scientists tested a nanoemulsion against 150 bacterial strains that attack cystic fibrosis patients. The emulsion proved effective at killing all of them, including one-third that are resistant to many antibiotics and 13 percent that resist all antibiotics.
They then tested the nanoemulsion against several bacterial strains grown in biofilms and sputum, to more closely simulate conditions in a patient’s body. Antibiotics often can’t penetrate biofilms and sputum unless given at high doses with unacceptable side effects.
The University of Michigan has filed for patent protection on the CF nanoemulsion, and licensed this technology to Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corporation. Baker is a founder and equity holder of NanoBio. NanoBio and LiPuma’s lab will cooperate in the next steps toward bringing the treatment to market. LiPuma is optimistic that if animal and human trials go well, a nanoemulsion treatment for cystic fibrosis infections could be available in as little as five years.
Press release: Nanoemulsion potent against superbugs killing cystic fibrosis patients
Link: NanoBio Corporation…
Abstract in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy…
Image credit: 0olong