A scientist from Karachi’s Lyari area has discovered an improved drug delivery mechanism that makes use of human red blood cells (RBCs) to treat cancer.
Titled “Efficient RNA drug delivery using red blood cell-extracellular vesicles,” Muhammad Waqas Usman Hingoro’s research has been published on June 15, 2018, in the latest edition of international journal Nature Communication.
The work undertaken in collaboration with a team of international cancer biologists has unleashed the ability of Extracellular Vesicles (EVs), the red blood cells’ component, which can carry drug delivery nanoparticles (NPs) into the affected human body parts as well as the whole organism.
The study says that most existing methods for programmable ribonucleic acids (RNA) drug therapies are unsuitable due to low uptake efficiency and high cytotoxicity. However, EVs can solve these problems because they represent a natural mode of intercellular communication.
According to the study, these extracellular vesicles are endogenous carriers with the capacity to carry different types of drugs, which can be in the form of RNA, protein or the DNA, and can be effectively used to target a variety of cancers.
The researchers found that RBCs belonging to blood group O can be used as universal donors for large-scale EV production, since they are readily available in blood banks and they are devoid of DNA. The new strategy described in the paper can be used to generate large-scale amounts of RBC-derived EVs for the delivery of RNA drugs, including antisense oligonucleotides, Cas9 mRNA, and guide RNAs.
Born and raised in Lyari, Hingoro earned his Bachelor’s in Clinical Laboratory in 2010 from the Z.A. School of Medical Technology in Karachi. After his graduation, he joined the Aga Khan University Hospital and advanced his research work under the supervision of Dr. Javed Yakoob and published a number of research papers in internationally-reputed scientific journals.
In 2013, he received the Chinese Government Scholarship (CSC) for a Master’s program and then got selected as a Fulbright Ph.D. candidate by the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), where Hingoro carried out his groundbreaking study under the supervision of Dr. Minh Le.
In recognition of his research contributions, the “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area Biomedical Sciences Forum” has recently awarded him the best prize at the International Symposium of Graduate Students, held on June 16, 2018.