Much of the work underway in Partners HealthCare’s research laboratories is aimed not only toward elucidating new treatments for specific conditions, but toward fostering better understanding of the basic science that underpins medicine and health care more broadly. The latter was the goal of a recent nanomedicine investigation co-led by Morteza Mahmoudi, PhD, an instructor in the Center for Nanomedicine and Department of Anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). His research seeks to determine whether sex differences in male versus female cells influence how well those cells uptake nanoparticles—a key mechanism leveraged in imaging and targeted drug delivery.

The latest study, conducted by Dr. Mahmoudi in concert with colleagues at Stanford University, McGill University, and the University of California, Berkeley, builds on a long-standing commitment at BWH to uncover how health and disease differ by sex. The team found that cells from men and women did, in fact, respond differently when they were reprogrammed to differentiate into a variety of cell types. Previously, Dr. Mahmoudi and his colleagues found that female cells had substantially higher uptake of nanoparticles than male cells. Together with the new results, published this month in ACS Nano, the findings could lead to new understanding of the variations in drug effectiveness and safety based on patients’ sex. 

“Over the past ten years, the central goal of my research has been focused on finding and introducing overlooked factors at the nanobio interfaces…which might pave a way to accelerate successful clinical translation of nanoparticles,” says Dr. Mahmoudi. “Different responses of male and female cells to the exact same type and concentration of nanoparticles is the latest overlooked factor we have found.” This and other, similar discoveries are helping to fuel sex-specific disease treatment and prevention methodologies under development at the BWH Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology. 

Read more about the study here.

Image credit: The Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

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