The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing nanozyme technology for treating cancers and viral infections. The term nanozyme is a combination of the words nanoparticle and enzyme. Nanoparticles are simply the smallest units of matter that retain the ability to function as a single entity. Enzymes are proteins that increase the rates of chemical reactions, thereby allowing cells to quickly build or breakdown molecules. By combining nanoparticles, enzymes, and moieties (specific groups of atoms that affect molecules’ selectivity), University of Florida researchers have create nanozymes. Each component performs a specific biotechnological function: the nanoparticles act as scaffolding, the enzymes destroy DNA or RNA of viruses or cancerous cells, and the moieties protect the enzymes while guiding them toward a particular location within the body. These nanozymes can also be loaded with drugs, which are released when they reach sites of infection or abnormal cell growth. This breakthrough technology will allow medical scientists to specifically target and destroy many diseases and malignancies. According the American Cancer Society, half of men and a third of women develop cancer during their lives. Viruses such as influenza, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are also widespread and life-threatening. Clearly, effective anticancer and antiviral treatments are in great demand.
A treatment for cancers and viral infections
- Can be administered through different routes (intravenous, topical, etc) permitting flexible treatment
- Includes certain moieties that protect the enzymes and drugs from degradation, increasing their effectiveness against cancers and viruses
- Treatment is targeted, mitigating damage to healthy body tissue and minimizing side effectsy
- Could incorporate imaging agents, allowing healthcare providers to observe treatments in real-time
The nanozymes created by University of Florida researchers have three main components: nanoparticles, enzymes, and moieties. Each performs a specific biotechnological function. The nanoparticles provide a stable base on which the other components can attach. Enzymes (and drugs, if desired) destroy malignant or infected cells. Finally, this technology includes three different moieties: recognition groups, protection groups and cell-entry groups. The recognition component guides the enzymes toward specific DNA strands, RNA strands, and proteins of interest. The protection component prevents the enzymes from degrading before they have reached their final destination. Finally, the cell-entry component makes it possible for the enzymes to gain access into specific organs, cell types, sub-cellular organelles, and nuclei.