"Many diseases result in inflammation," said Samir Mitragotri, professor of chemical engineering at UC Santa Barbara and director of the campus's Center for Bioengineering.
Whether inflammation is a byproduct of the disease or the inflammation is the disease, it is a common indicator of a problem with the system.
"If we could target the common denominator, whether the inflammation is coming from cancer or arthritis, we could deliver the drug there," said Mitragotri
, who specializes in targeted drug delivery.
"Basically the main benefit is that you can deliver the drug in a more effective dose," Mitragotri
Take for example the case of chemotherapy, which often has a narrow therapeutic range: Too little and the treatment is not effective, too much and it can be lethal.
Because chemo travels through the bloodstream and affects all the tissues it comes in contact with, dosages are restricted at least in part based on the deleterious effect it has on other, unafflicted organs and their functions.
Not only can targeted therapy ensure other body systems remain unaffected, Mitragotri
explained, but it could allow for higher doses of drug to the site, which could decrease treatment time.