Pioneering microfluidics technologies to treat pregnant populations
A research group at the University of Manitoba is using microfluidics technologies from Dolomite Microfluidics to design and evaluate novel nanoparticle drug delivery systems for the safe and effective treatment of diseases during pregnancy. The laboratory has developed an innovative microfluidics model to mimic the structure of the placenta, and is using this system to assess the potential of new nanoparticle-based therapies for serious congenital diseases, such as diaphragmatic hernia.
Nanomedicines have huge potential for prenatal therapeutics, because nanoparticles can be engineered to selectively target maternal or fetal tissues. Dr Hagar Labouta, Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, explained: “The efficacy of nanoparticle systems for targeted drug delivery has already been demonstrated in a wide range of infectious diseases and cancers, but its use in pregnant populations has been limited. We are pioneering the use of nanotechnology for the precise delivery of microRNA therapies in pregnancy.”
Implementing microfluidics technologies has helped the researchers to replicate the unique physiology and pharmacology of the placenta. Hagar continued: “A woman’s placenta differs from that of other species, and changes dynamically throughout pregnancy. To develop safe and effective therapeutics, we must therefore focus not only on drug development, but also on developing a model that replicates the gestational environment. We use microfluidics chips to culture placental cells and matrices on a microscale, creating a dynamic model that allows us to investigate how nanoparticle medicines interact with this biological barrier. The Dolomite Microfluidics system provides a flexible platform that can be used to develop novel nanoparticle drug delivery systems to treat a range of diseases. Looking to the future, this will enable us to improve maternal health and pregnancy outcomes on a larger scale.”
1. David, A.L. et al. 2022. Improving development of drug treatments for pregnant women and the fetus. Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science, 56(6), 976–990. doi: 10.1007/s43441-022-00433-w.
2. Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research. 2018. Advancing the science of nanotechnology in drug development. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/news-events-human-drugs/advancing-science-nanotechnology-drug-development.
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