by Allison Bierly, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health (NIH):
A new drug delivery technique may hold promise for more efficient cancer therapies. The technique involves storing a cancer drug inside tiny objects called nanoparticles. Using this method, researchers were able to shrink tumors in mice while using smaller doses of the drug to reduce harmful side effects.
The chemotherapy drug cisplatin is an effective cell killer. It's used against half of all human cancers. However, cisplatin carries serious side effects, like kidney and nerve damage. These side effects limit the dose that can be used, which is a problem because the drug only lasts in the bloodstream for a short time.
Nanoparticles are emerging as an efficient tool to deliver therapies. They can carry drug molecules and be targeted to specific cells. Recently, a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women's Hospital showed that they could store an inactive form of cisplatin, called a prodrug, inside nanoparticles that are engineered to target a specific protein on prostate cancer cells.
Once the cells take up the nanoparticle, the prodrug is released and converted to its active form.
The team showed that these drug-carrying particles kill cancer cells in culture more efficiently than the drug alone. Read more>>