Characterization of myofibroblast-targeted nanoparticles. (Credit: American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology)

Thanks to a recent breakthrough, a single injection of a drug can target a specific cell type, tissue, or organ to more efficiently treat disease without undesirable side effects. Using this approach, scientists have treated pulmonary fibrosis using nanoparticles. Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive incurable disease that results in the stiffening of the lungs through scarring.

The team focused on the development of nanoparticles capable of targeting fibroblasts in the lung — the cell type responsible for the scarring — in order to deliver an effective drug that halts the progression of the disease.

The idea behind the study was not to find a novel therapeutic, per se, but to look at whether delivering effective known drugs to specific cells in the lung can have a more potent therapeutic effect.