A pinboard by
Amr Hefnawy

PhD Student, Center for Materials Science, Zewail City of Science and Technology


The project aims at development efficient and targeted delivery of chemotherapy to brain tumor

The project aimed at delivery of a chemotherapeutic agent (Dox) used for treatment of various types of tumors. The developed delivery system is prepared through simple process using biocompatible and biodegredable materials. It is capable of efficiently delivering its drug cargo selectively to the brain with very limited distribution to other parts of the body. Moreover, the system can load higher amounts of the drug compared to previously reported system in the literature and then sustain the release of the loaded drug to more than 10 days with a rate that can be optimized for treatment.

The developed system was in the form of nanoparticles that were loaded into intranasal gel, film and inserts. Several optimized formulations were then tested on cell lines and animal model where they proved enhanced efficiency and safety.


Fabrication of an ionic-sensitive in situ gel loaded with resveratrol nanosuspensions intended for direct nose-to-brain delivery.

Abstract: The objective of this study was to fabricate a composite in situ gelling formulation combining nanoparticulates and an ionic-triggered deacetylated gellan gum (DGG) matrix for challenging intranasal drug delivery. The prepared resveratrol nanosuspensions (Res-NSs) were distributed in DGG solutions. Parameters such as the in situ gelation capability, particle size, rheological properties, and texture profiles were used to describe the properties of the in situ gel. Pharmacokinetic and brain-targeting efficiency studies were performed after intranasal and intravenous administration, respectively. Biodistribution and localization using in vivo imaging systems and fluorescence microscopy are also described. The formulation containing 0.6% w/v DGG displayed a favorable gelling ability and the desired viscosity. The rheology results established that the DGG in situ gel possesses the characteristics of shear thinning, thixotropy and yield stress. The results of the textural profile revealed an increase in adhesiveness and viscosity for the in situ gel compared to the DGG solution. In vitro penetration studies followed a Higuchi mathematic model. Pharmacokinetics revealed a 2.88-times increase of bioavailability in the brain by intranasal Res-NSs in situ gel formulation. The drug targeting efficiency (458.2%) and direct transport percentages (78.18%) demonstrated direct delivery via the nose-brain pathway. The distribution and localization further illustrated the existence of direct nose-to-brain transport, bypassing the BBB. In sum, this hybrid in situ gel system is a promising approach for intranasal application in terms of the enhancement of nasal mucosal permeability and increased nasal cavity residence time by a nanotechnology delivery system and in situ gelling technology.

Pub.: 28 Aug '16, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Intranasal brain-targeted clonazepam polymeric micelles for immediate control of status epilepticus: in vitro optimization, ex vivo determination of cytotoxicity, in vivo biodistribution and pharmacodynamics studies.

Abstract: Clonazepam (CZ) is an anti-epileptic drug used mainly in status epilepticus (SE). The drug belongs to Class II according to BCS classification with very limited solubility and high permeability and it suffers from extensive first-pass metabolism. The aim of the present study was to develop CZ-loaded polymeric micelles (PM) for direct brain delivery allowing immediate control of SE. PM were prepared via thin film hydration (TFH) technique adopting a central composite face-centered design (CCFD). The seventeen developed formulae were evaluated in terms of entrapment efficiency (EE), particle size (PS), polydispersity index (PDI), zeta potential (ZP), and in vitro release. For evaluating the in vivo behavior of the optimized formula, both biodistrbution using (99m)Tc-radiolabeled CZ and pharmacodynamics studies were done in addition to ex vivo cytotoxicty. At a drug:Pluronic® P123:Pluronic® L121 ratio of 1:20:20 (PM7), a high EE, ZP, Q8h, and a low PDI was achieved. The biodistribution studies revealed that the optimized formula had significantly higher drug targeting efficiency (DTE = 242.3%), drug targeting index (DTI = 144.25), and nose-to-brain direct transport percentage (DTP = 99.30%) and a significant prolongation of protection from seizures in comparison to the intranasally administered solution with minor histopathological changes. The declared results reveal the ability of the developed PM to be a strong potential candidate for the emergency treatment of SE.

Pub.: 21 Sep '16, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Transferrin conjugated nontoxic carbon dots for doxorubicin delivery to target pediatric brain tumor cells.

Abstract: Among various cancers, pediatric brain tumors represent the most common cancer type in children and the second most common cause of cancer related deaths. Anticancer drugs and therapies, such as doxorubicin (Dox), have severe side effects on patients during chemotherapy, especially for children as their bodies are still under development. These side effects are believed to be due to the lack of a delivery system with high efficacy and targeting selectivity, resulting in serious damages of normal cells. To improve the efficacy and selectivity, the transferrin (Trans) receptor mediated endocytosis can be utilized for drug delivery system design, as transferrin receptors are expressed on the blood brain barrier (BBB) and often over expressed in brain tumor cells. Carbon dots (C-Dots) have recently emerged as benign nanoparticles in biomedical applications owing to their good water solubility, tunable surface functionalities and excellent biocompatibility. The unique characteristics of C-Dots make them promising candidates for drug delivery development. In this study, carbon dots-transferrin-doxorubicin covalent conjugate (C-Dots-Trans-Dox) was synthesized, characterized by different spectroscopic techniques and investigated for the potential application as a drug delivery system for anticancer drug doxorubicin to treat pediatric brain tumors. Our in vitro results demonstrate greater uptake of the C-Dots-Trans-Dox conjugate compared to Dox alone presumably owing to the high levels of transferrin receptors on these tumor cells. Experiment showed that C-Dots-Trans-Dox at 10 nM was significantly more cytotoxic than Dox alone, reducing viability by 14-45%, across multiple pediatric brain tumor cell lines.

Pub.: 08 Oct '16, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier: Recent Advances in Drug Delivery to the Brain.

Abstract: CNS disorders are on the rise despite advancements in our understanding of their pathophysiological mechanisms. A major hurdle to the treatment of these disorders is the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which serves as an arduous janitor to protect the brain. Many drugs are being discovered for CNS disorders, which, however fail to enter the market because of their inability to cross the BBB. This is a pronounced challenge for the pharmaceutical fraternity. Hence, in addition to the discovery of novel entities and drug candidates, scientists are also developing new formulations of existing drugs for brain targeting. Several approaches have been investigated to allow therapeutics to cross the BBB. As the molecular structure of the BBB is better elucidated, several key approaches for brain targeting include physiological transport mechanisms such as adsorptive-mediated transcytosis, inhibition of active efflux pumps, receptor-mediated transport, cell-mediated endocytosis, and the use of peptide vectors. Drug-delivery approaches comprise delivery from microspheres, biodegradable wafers, and colloidal drug-carrier systems (e.g., liposomes, nanoparticles, nanogels, dendrimers, micelles, nanoemulsions, polymersomes, exosomes, and quantum dots). The current review discusses the latest advancements in these approaches, with a major focus on articles published in 2015 and 2016. In addition, we also cover the alternative delivery routes, such as intranasal and convection-enhanced diffusion methods, and disruption of the BBB for brain targeting.

Pub.: 20 Jan '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Glial cell: a potential target for cellular and drug based therapy in various CNS diseases.

Abstract: Glial cells are integrated part of neurovascular unit of blood brain barrier (BBB). They undergo mitosis and mainly classified as astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, ependymal cells and nerve glial antigen 2 cells. Being a most versatile glial cell, astrocytes provide structural support to neurons, maintain brain homeostasis, take part in neuronal communication, and perform some housekeeping functions. Oligodendrocytes myelinate the neuronal axons for proper transmission of nerve impulse and microglia are brain immune cells. Multiple sclerosis is a prototype glia mediated disease that manifests demyelination. Fingolimod is already being marketed for this disease, while guanabenz and ibudilast are facing clinical trials. Many researches revealed the role of glial cells in Alzheimer's disease, in which riluzole (a glutamate modulator already in market for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-ALS) was found to be effective. Q-cells® are glial cell-based therapeutic agent to treat ALS that only produce astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, when transplanted in vivo. hIL13-PE is a gene based therapeutic agent that has been smartly designed for the treatment of glioma. Although for CNS diseases, drugs are available, still it is not easy to extract satisfactory therapeutic effect of most of the drugs due to the presence of BBB. This barrier can be overcome by implanting a drug reservoir in brain parenchyma (wafer), by judicious selection of drug delivery system (nanoparticulate system), or by using an alternative route of administration (intranasal route). This review revolves around cellular and drug based modulation of glial cells to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit for some of the CNS diseases.

Pub.: 18 Mar '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

The exciting potential of nanotherapy in brain-tumor targeted drug delivery approaches.

Abstract: Delivering therapeutics to the central nervous system (CNS) and brain-tumor has been a major challenge. The current standard treatment approaches for the brain-tumor comprise of surgical resection followed by immunotherapy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. However, the current treatments are limited in providing significant benefits to the patients and despite recent technological advancements; brain-tumor is still challenging to treat. Brain-tumor therapy is limited by the lack of effective and targeted strategies to deliver chemotherapeutic agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is the main obstacle that must be overcome to allow compounds to reach their targets in the brain. Recent advances have boosted the nanotherapeutic approaches in providing an attractive strategy in improving the drug delivery across the BBB and into the CNS. Compared to conventional formulations, nanoformulations offer significant advantages in CNS drug delivery approaches. Considering the above facts, in this review, the physiological/anatomical features of the brain-tumor and the BBB are briefly discussed. The drug transport mechanisms at the BBB are outlined. The approaches to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs across the CNS into the brain-tumor using nanocarriers are summarized. In addition, the challenges that need to be addressed in nanotherapeutic approaches for their enhanced clinical application in brain-tumor therapy are discussed.

Pub.: 13 Apr '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Electrosteric stealth Rivastigmine loaded liposomes for brain targeting: preparation, characterization, ex vivo, bio-distribution and in vivo pharmacokinetic studies.

Abstract: Being one of the highly effective drugs in treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Rivastigmine brain targeting is highly demandable, therefore liposomal dispersion of Rivastigmine was prepared containing 2 mol% PEG-DSPE added to Lecithin, Didecyldimethyl ammonium bromide (DDAB), Tween 80 in 1:0.02:0.25 molar ratio. A major challenge during the preparation of liposomes is maintaining a stable formulation, therefore the aim of our study was to increase liposomal stability by addition of DDAB to give an electrostatic stability and PEG-DSPE to increase stability by steric hindrance, yielding what we called an electrosteric stealth (ESS) liposomes. A medium nano-sized liposome (478 ± 4.94 nm) with a nearly neutral zeta potential (ZP, -8 ± 0.2 mV) and an entrapment efficiency percentage of 48 ± 6.22 was prepared. Stability studies showed no major alteration after three months storage period concerning particle size, polydispersity index, ZP, entrapment efficiency and in vitro release study confirming the successful formation of a stable liposomes. No histopathological alteration was recorded for ESS liposomes of the sheep nasal mucosa. While ESS liposomes showed higher % of drug permeating through the sheep nasal mucosa (48.6%) than the drug solution (28.7%). On completing the in vivo pharmacokinetic studies of 36 rabbits showed 424.2% relative bioavailability of the mean plasma levels of the formula ESS compared to that of RHT intranasal solution and 486% relative bioavailability of the mean brain levels.

Pub.: 19 Apr '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Intranasal Drug Delivery: A Non-Invasive Approach for the Better Delivery of Neurotherapeutics.

Abstract: The convoluted pathophysiology of brain disorders along with penetration issue of drugs to brain represents major hurdle that requires some novel therapies. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) denotes a rigid barrier for delivery of therapeutics in vivo, to overcome this barrier intranasal delivery is an excellent strategy to deliver the drug directly to brain via olfactory and trigeminal nerve pathways that originate as olfactory neuro-epithelium in the nasal cavity and terminate in brain.Kind of therapeutics like low molecular weight drugs can be delivered to the CNS via this route. In this review we have outlined the anatomy and physiological aspect of nasal mucosa, certain hurdles, various strategies including importance of muco-adhesive polymers to increase the drug delivery and possible clinical prospects that are partly contribute in intranasal drug delivery.Exhaustive literature survey related to intranasal drug delivery system revealed the new strategy that circumvents the BBB, based on non-invasive concept for treating various CNS disorders. Numerous advantages like prompt effects, self-medication through wide-ranging devices, and the frequent as well protracted dosing are associated with this novel route.Recently few reports have proved that nasal to brain drug delivery system that bypasses the BBB. This novel route associated with targeting efficiency and less exposure of therapeutic substances to non-target site. Nevertheless, this route desires much more research into the safe transferring of therapeutics to the brain. Role of muco-adhesive polymer and surface modification with specific ligands are area of interest of researcher to explore more about this.

Pub.: 20 May '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

Enhancement of nose-to-brain delivery of hydrophilic macromolecules with stearate- or polyethylene glycol-modified arginine-rich peptide.

Abstract: Recently, nose-to-brain delivery is a highly versatile route, which, in combination with novel drugs being developed for treating intractable CNS diseases, is a promising approach for the treatment of disorders. Furthermore, nano-sized drug carriers may improve nose-to-brain drug delivery by their capability to increase the transmucosal penetration of the drugs across nasal mucosal tissue barrier. However, there is still not enough information regarding mechanism of absorption pathway from nasal cavity to brain using nanocarriers. In this study, to investigate the nose-to-brain transport pathway using nanocarriers, the distribution in whole brain, nasal mucosa, and trigeminal nerve after intranasal administration of two kinds of nanocarriers which have hydrophobic or hydrophilic moiety. We used CHHRRRRHHC peptide (CH2R4H2C) as basic peptide carriers, and modified with stearic acid (STR) as a hydrophobic moiety (STR-CH2R4H2C) or polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based block copolymer (PEG-PCL) as hydrophilic moiety (PEG-PCL-CH2R4H2C). The nose-to-brain drug delivery can be improved by using STR-CH2R4H2C and PEG-PCL-CH2R4H2C as carriers. Specifically, hydrophobic STR-CH2R4H2C is more suitable for the transport of drugs targeting the forebrain, while PEG-PCL-modified CH2R4H2C is more suitable for transporting drugs targeting the hindbrain or whole brain tissue. In conclusion, the results of this study support the possibility that drug delivery pathways can be controlled depending on the properties of different carrier complexes.

Pub.: 02 Aug '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17

L-Carnitine-conjugated nanoparticles to promote permeation across blood-brain barrier and to target glioma cells for drug delivery via the novel organic cation/carnitine transporter OCTN2.

Abstract: Overcoming blood-brain barrier (BBB) and targeting tumor cells are two key steps for glioma chemotherapy. By taking advantage of the specific expression of Na(+)-coupled carnitine transporter 2 (OCTN2) on both brain capillary endothelial cells and glioma cells, l-carnitine conjugated poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (LC-PLGA NPs) were prepared to enable enhanced BBB permeation and glioma-cell targeting. Conjugation of l-carnitine significantly enhanced the uptake of PLGA nanoparticles in the BBB endothelial cell line hCMEC/D3 and the glioma cell line T98G. The uptake was dependent on Na(+) and inhibited by the excessive free l-carnitine, suggesting involvement of OCTN2 in the process. In vivo mouse studies showed that LC-PLGA NPs resulted in high accumulation in the brain as indicated by the biodistribution and imaging assays. Furthermore, compared to Taxol and paclitaxel-loaded unmodified PLGA NPs, the drug-loaded LC-PLGA NPs showed improved anti-glioma efficacy in both 2D-cell and 3D-spheroid models. The PEG spacer length of the ligand attached to the nanoparticles was optimized, and the formulation with PEG1000 (LC-1000-PLGA NPs) showed the maximum targeting efficiency. We conclude that l-carnitine-mediated cellular recognition and internalization via OCTN2 significantly facilitate the transcytosis of nanoparticles across BBB and the uptake of nanoparticles in glioma cells, resulting in improved anti-glioma efficacy.

Pub.: 05 Oct '17, Pinned: 08 Nov '17