The primary objective of modern medicine in general is to deliver drugs and “nutraceuticals” (food or part of a food that delivers health benefits) directly to where they best serve their purpose, typically via the blood stream. However, 90-98% of the value of drugs and nutraceuticals administered orally are lost to the digestive and liver systems and flushed out as urine. The traditional way round this has been to deliver them directly into the bloodstream by injection, either intravenous or intramuscular. However, this is costly, inconvenient, painful and risky. The search for a far better delivery system has led to the extraordinary world of “liposome technology”. In sum, it is the medical branch of nano technology.
Liposomes are nano-sized particles configured with a protective outer casing that protects the mother load of drugs or nutrients from the corrosive digestive system . They are small enough to past through the body’s cellular filters and find their way directly into the blood stream where they release their payload.
Liposome technology has now overcome many hurdles and is beginning to make its way from clinical trials to the high street in liquid or powdered form for nutritional, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. The most exciting developments have been in the development of anti-cancer liposomes. Ideal tumor therapy would enable delivery of highly toxic agents to tumor cells and leave normal cells unaffected – previously unachievable. Doxorubicin liposomes, However, can now treat a broad range of cancers without this conundrum. Adriamycin and Taxol liposomes meanwhile allow 30 times more drug to reach a tumor without poisoning the body en route.
Other success stories include the blood substitute haemoglobin delivered in liposomes. This has overcome its traditional delivery drawbacks of kidney damage, toxicity, improper oxygen release, vasoconstriction and hypertension. In skin treatments, l – ascorbic vitamin C and copper peptides are two of the best skin firming ingredients as they stimulate the production of collagen. But vitamin C is not stable and the molecule too big for normal delivery methods. Once again liposome technology has found a way around the problem. Methylxanthine liposomes that reduce cellulite are another success. Liposome technology is now in the clinical trial stage of treating brain tumours.
• Liposome technology is very exciting, but don’t take the attitude that you can now take your hands of the steering wheel of health because soon there will be a cure for everything, including for symptoms induced by a lifetime of bad habits. Life doesn’t work like that – at least not yet. perhaps in the future we can wreck our bodies and then expect medical science to fix us like mechanics in a garage restoring a bashed-up, rusting vintage car! But we’re not there yet by a long chalk.