Say you develop a drug to treat a neuropsychiatric disorder, but you want it to work only on specific types of cells in the brain. How can you deploy it so it steers clear of some other cells?
To help with that challenge, a team of biomedical engineers has pieced together a system that allows a drug to home in on a desired type of brain cell amid a sea of thousands of different kinds of neurons.
“If you deliver a drug to a certain part of the brain, it’s going to affect every cell type in that part of the brain,” said Dr. Michael Tadross, a Duke University biomedical engineer who led the team that developed the technology. “Even if there are only two cell types, you’ll never know how the drug is working.”