UofL researcher uses fruit for less toxic drug delivery

UofL researchers have found a less toxic way to deliver medicines by using the natural lipids in plants, particularly grapefruit and ginger.

The resulting intellectual property portfolio consisting of 12 patent families, invented by Huang-Ge Zhang, of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, has been licensed to Boston-based Senda BioSciences, a Flagship Pioneering company. 

The UofL technologies use exosomes – very small fragments of living, edible plant cells – to transport various therapeutic agents, including anti-cancer drugs, DNA/RNA and proteins such as antibodies. These exosomes help ensure the drug is properly absorbed by the body. 

“Our exosomes come from fruit or other edible plants — something good for you, that you buy in the grocery store and that humans have eaten forever,” said Zhang, an endowed professor of microbiology and immunology who holds the Founders Chair in Cancer Research. “And, they don’t require synthetic formulation.”

Zhang originally experimented with other fruits, including tomatoes and grapes. His epiphany came while eating a grapefruit — he realized his breakfast was chock-full of natural lipids that could be harvested to make exosomes at a larger scale. The results of that work later were published in multiple scientific journals, including Nature Communications, and Cell Host & Microbe, and now are exclusively licensed to Senda Biosciences.

Please see the full article by Baylee Pullam here.