Research Highlight

Plasma protein could make drugs work better

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.66 Published online 19 May 2014

An efficient drug delivery system could be in the offing using human serum albumin (HSA). Researchers have now shown that HSA, the most abundant protein in human blood plasma, is a good anchoring site for acidic drugs and could be a boon for cancer treatment1.

Researchers from IIT Kharagpur claim that anchoring of acidic drugs (such as the anti-coagulant warfarin) in the ‘pocket’ of HSA can increase their bioavailability, thereby extracting more out of the drugs.

The bioavailability of prototropic drugs has always been an important issue and is known to improve in the presence of large cyclic ‘encapsulators’. However, the toxicity and compatibility of these encapsulator molecules might pose complications and tweaking them could turn out to be costly.

The scientists show a better way of biomolecular encapsulation of drugs and suggest that serum proteins might be more efficient, biocompatible, less toxic and easily-available drug carriers. Due to binding with HSA, the acidity-window of the acidic drugs can be substantially increased making them therapeutically active in acidic pH. This could help treat a lot of different ailments including cancers.


1. Datta, S. & Halder, M. Effect of encapsulation in the anion receptor pocket of sub-domain IIA of human serum albumin on the modulation of pKa of warfarin and structurally similar acidic guests: A possible implication on biological activity. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B: Biol. 130, 76-85 (2014)