A researcher at Dalhousie Medical School has developed a new way to deliver chemotherapy drugs. Using nanotechnology, the novel system releases chemo in cancerous cells only, leaving healthy cells alone. The work was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
Dr. Naga Puvvada, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB), created the drug delivery system. He worked in collaboration with DMNB’s Dr. Keith Brunt and researchers in the U.S. and India.
The research team designed a nano-particle that increases the amount of chemotherapy delivered to a tumor, and releases chemo only once inside tumor cells. This minimizes the impact on healthy tissue.
Only with the high level of acidity created by tumors does the nano-particle become activated – it then enters the cancerous cell and breaks open. As the nano-particle releases its chemotherapy, it undergoes a color change, known as photo-switching. This photo-switching enables researchers to determine how much of the chemo has been released and can be used to identify the presence of tumors.
“What’s unique about our design is the potential clinical translatability of our fluorescent photo-switching, as it could help determine the amount of chemotherapy being released,” says Puvvada. “We still have some work to do before this is used in the clinic as the fluorescence is not currently picked up by MRIs or CTs. This is one of the next steps in our research.”
While the research was based on human breast cancer cells, it has the potential to be applied to any solid tumor.
“This new delivery system, while it is in its early stages, is promising for patient-tailored therapy in personalized medicine,” says Brunt, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology. “The potential to improve the quality of life for solid tumor cancer patients and their overall outcomes is within reach with this type of targeted, measurable treatment.”
The research was funded by the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the Reynolds Fellowship, and the Canadian Natural and Engineering Research Council.
Release Date: July 22, 2015
Source: Dalhousie Medical School