HOUSTON METHODIST

Biomimetic Nanoparticles: An Additional Weapon against COVID-19?

Dec. 18, 2020

The primary cause of mortality in patients with COVID-19 seems to be the cytokine storm induced by the virus, leading to systemic inflammation, lung injury and multi-organ failure. Corticosteroids have been somewhat effective in lessening the catastrophic effects of this progression in patients.

An article in the November 2020 issue of Nanoparticles describes how a new nanoparticle helps improve the anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroid dexamethasone to potentially help patients with COVID-19. Scientists at the Houston Methodist Academic Institute recently developed a nanoparticle that targets the inflamed vasculature associated with cancer, cardiovascular diseases and sepsis. To understand how this might be relevant to treatment of COVID-19, the team encapsulated dexamethasone in the nanoparticle and treated a model that was typical of the cytokine storm syndrome associated with COVID-19.

Animals treated with the encapsulated dexamethasone showed a survival advantage and an improved immune response. Results showed that the nanoparticle, a leukocyte-derived nanovesicle, called a leukosome, improved the therapeutic value of dexamethasone and better controlled the inflammatory response compared to the free drug. This approach might improve the toolbox of resources available in the fight against hyperinflammation related to infectious diseases, including COVID-19.