Nanoparticles to control Helicobacter pylori without using antibiotics
Instituto Nacional de Engenharia Biomédica (INEB), Portugal
Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium that grows in the mucous layer which coats the inside of the stomach, has coexisted with humans for thousands of years. In fact, it is estimated that about 50 % of all people have Helicobacter pylori in their bodies, and although the bacterium does not usually cause disease in most infected people, it is directly responsible for 90 % of the world’s gastric cancer burden, accounting for close to 1 million new cases every year.
This type of cancer – of the stomach – is very difficult to prevent, as there are no specific biomarkers and no known early warning symptoms. As such, eradicating this bacterium would greatly reduce the burden of the disease.
Health guidelines advise the eradication of H. pylori from all infected people, but this involves the massive use of antibiotics, specifically a combination of two or three of these drugs. However, in four out of ten patients this strategy does not work, mostly because the bacterium has developed resistance to antibiotics. This means that some 1.6 billion people worldwide are left without options to clear the infection.
Moreover, repeated and massive use of antibiotics, and misuse of them, also disrupts the normal host gut microbiota, which can cause other health issues.
In response to this situation, the researchers have developed NanoPyl®, a formulation of lipid nanoparticles designed to control the burden of H. pylori through oral administration. NanoPyl® safely and effectively reduces the burden of H. pylori in the gastric microbiota, while allowing the maintenance of a healthy host gut mucosa. In contrast to antibiotics, NanoPyl® does not induce bacterial resistance and does not disrupt the host gut microbiota. In a 14-day trial in animal models, NanoPyl® reduced 90 % of the H. pylori gastric burden.