The body’s own transport protein can make drugs more effective

Innovation Fund Denmark is investing DKK 9 million in research into albumin to get drugs into the cells where they are needed – without being broken down by the body. This will make it possible to manufacture pharmaceuticals that are more effective and safer.

2014.12.19 | Anne-Mette Siem

Associate Professor Kenneth Howard, iNANO. Photo: Maria Randima, AU Communication

When patients take their medicine, it often works all over the body and not just in the places affected by the illness. The drug also quickly disappears from the body.

A new collaborative project between Aarhus University and Novozymes will provide more controllable treatment, where the drug is directly delivered into the body’s cells. For the patient, this means taking less medicine, as well as experiencing better efficacy and fewer side effects.

The research focuses on albumin – a natural transport protein found in the blood, which is responsible for transporting hormones and fatty acids around the body. When albumin encounters the right cell on its way round in the bloodstream, it attaches itself, delivers its load and then continues on. In other words, albumin has the keys to our cells and can open up for drugs wherever necessary.

If it was possible for albumin to transport medicine as well, specific cells in the body could be targeted. At the same time, the period that albumin spends with the cell could be increased or decreased depending on whether long-term or short-term treatment is required.

“This is ground-breaking because it makes it possible to tailor the circulation and cellular transport of albumin to exactly match the illness and treatment,” explains Associate Professor Kenneth Howard, Aarhus University.

The use of medicine is significantly improved because it works precisely where it is intended. It thus becomes more effective and there are fewer side effects, all of which benefits the patient’s health.

“This makes it possible to take a new direction, where the medicine is delivered directly into the cell by using albumin, and this opens up new opportunities in the long term. This project aims to ensure better and safer treatment for patients,” says Senior Director Søren Kjærulff, a researcher at Novozymes.

For more information, please contact
Associate Professor Kenneth Howard
Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO)
Aarhus University
+45 5127 2573

Media Officer René Tronborg
Novozymes A/S
2880 Bagsværd
+45 3077 2274

Budget: DKK 17 million

Innovation Fund Denmark’s investment: DKK 9 million

Duration: 3 years

Public / media, Staff