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Multicellular Living Drug Platform for Targeted Treatment of Various Diseases

Isolated Micro-Ecosystems Secrete Drug Molecules at Controlled Doses and Locations

This drug platform employs living multicellular assemblies that can deliver drug molecules in controlled patterns to specific tissues in order to perform complex therapeutic functions. Unlike standard small-molecule drugs and biopharmaceuticals, living drugs are therapeutic systems composed of living cells, which are able to perform medical functions. Most living drugs use genetically engineered cells of a single type, as with CAR T cell therapy, which has been successful in treating certain cancers, and stem cell-based therapies, which have treated other diseases effectively. However, relying on just one cell limits the potential functionality of living drugs.


Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a system to create multicellular living drugs made up of two or more types of alive cells (i.e., drug-secreting and supporting cells) that can work together to perform complex therapeutic functions. The choice of alive cells includes genetically programmed prokaryotic cells, eukaryotic cells, or a mixture of both. This new class of medicine employs a capsule that hydrolyzes in specific tissue areas to release the multiple types of cells selectively, controlling dose and duration. The multiple types of cells can perform various functions, including secreting specific drug molecules in programmed combinations or sensing a disease via associated biomarkers.




New class of multicellular living drugs that increase retention, viability, and drug-secreting efficacy in targeted host tissues



  • Combines multiple cell types, allowing more complicated, personalized therapy for a variety of diseases
  • Senses specific environmental signals, enabling the release of drug molecules at targeted areas with controlled duration and dosage
  • Synthesizes drug molecules in situ from local nutrients, requiring no active ingredients and allowing reformulation of many FDA-approved small molecule drugs


Multicellular living drugs are isolated micro-ecosystems comprised of nano-bio-engineered assemblies of living cells, which include three major components to act as medicines. A cross-linked polymer boundary shell provides protection for the cells and controls the uptake of nutrient molecules. Functional cells within the shell are programmed to perform a variety of tasks such as synthesizing molecular drugs, assisting in metabolism, and transporting substances into the extracellular space. The third component is a collection of supporting cells, programmed genetic circuits that maintain homeostasis in the living drugs, regulate the release of products from functional cells, and eliminate the living drugs once their therapeutic purpose is over.

Patent Information: