Scientists at the Saarland University and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) unraveled lung mucus’s physical properties:

They discovered that a rigid gel scaffold in lung mucus separates large, fluid-filled pores and prevents nanoparticle movement beyond individual pore boundaries. Their findings deepen our understanding of diseases of the respiratory system, notably infections, and support the development of new inhaled medications.

The researchers published their findings in the renowned scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

Original publication:
Kirch, J., A. Schneider, B. Abou, A. Hopf, U. F. Schaefer, M. Schneider, C. Schall, C. Wagner, and C. M. Lehr. "Optical Tweezers Reveal Relationship between Microstructure and Nanoparticle Penetration of Pulmonary Mucus". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012.


The Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) is an HZI branch, which was founded in 2009 jointly by HZI and the University of the Saarland. HIPS researchers are concerned with the search for new drugs against infectious diseases, their optimization for human application, and determining how they can best be delivered to their target location.

The “Drug Delivery” Department studies the distribution of drugs within the body. The focus is on investigating how drugs are able to overcome biological barriers to safely reach their destination. The development of nanotransport particles constitutes an important part of the department's work.


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