Team uses nanoparticles to enhance chemotherapy

Jul 07, 2014 by James Hataway
Shanta Dhar (center), Rakesh Pathak (right) and Sean Marrache have developed a new formulation of cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug, that significantly increases the drug's ability to target and destroy cancerous cells. Credit: University of Georgia

(Phys.org) —University of Georgia researchers have developed a new formulation of cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug, that significantly increases the drug's ability to target and destroy cancerous cells.

Cisplatin may be used to treat a variety of cancers, but it is most commonly prescribed for cancer of the bladder, ovaries, cervix, testicles and lung. It is an effective drug, but many cancerous cells develop resistance to the treatment.

Shanta Dhar, assistant professor of chemistry in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Rakesh Pathak, a postdoctoral researcher in Dhar's lab, constructed a modified version of cisplatin called Platin-M, which is designed to overcome this resistance by attacking mitochondria within cancerous cells. They published their findings recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"You can think of mitochondria as a kind of powerhouse for the cell, generating the energy it needs to grow and reproduce," said Dhar, a member of the UGA Cancer Center and principal investigator for the project. "This prodrug delivers cisplatin directly to the mitochondria in . Without that essential powerhouse, the cell cannot survive."

Sean Marrache, a graduate student in Dhar's lab, entrapped Platin-M in a specially designed nanoparticle 1,000 times finer than a human hair that seeks out the mitochondria and releases the drug. Once inside, Platin-M interferes with the 's DNA, triggering cell death.

Dhar's research team tested Platin-M on neuroblastoma-a cancer commonly diagnosed in children-that typically originates in the adrenal glands. In preliminary experiments using a cisplatin-resistant cell culture, Platin-M were 17 times more active than alone.

"This technique could become a treatment for a number of cancers, but it may prove most useful for more aggressive forms of cancer that are resistant to current therapies," said Pathak.

Both Dhar and Pathak caution that their experimental results are preliminary and they must do more work before Platin-M enters any clinical trials. However, their early results in mouse models are promising, and they are currently developing safety trials in larger animals.

"Cisplatin is a well-studied chemotherapy, so we hope our unique formulation will enhance its efficacy," said Dhar, who is also a member of UGA's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, Center for Drug Discovery, and Regenerative Bioscience Center. "We are excited about these early results, which look very promising."

This work was supported by an award from the National Institutes of Health, grant number P30GM092378, through the UGA Center of Metalloenzyme Studies and the UGA Office of the Vice President for Research.

Explore further: New aspirin-based prodrug may prevent damage caused by chemotherapy

More information: Detouring of cisplatin to access mitochondrial genome for overcoming resistance, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1405244111

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers use nanoparticles to fight cancer

Aug 14, 2013

Researchers at the University of Georgia are developing a new treatment technique that uses nanoparticles to reprogram immune cells so they are able to recognize and attack cancer. The findings were published ...

Fine tuning an old-school chemotherapy drug

May 05, 2014

First approved by the FDA in the 1970s, the chemotherapy drug cisplatin and its relative carboplatin remain mainstays of treatment for lung, head and neck, testicular and ovarian cancer. However, cisplatin's ...

Recommended for you

Nano-forests to reveal secrets of cells

5 hours ago

Vertical nanowires could be used for detailed studies of what happens on the surface of cells. The findings are important for pharmaceuticals research, among other applications. A group of researchers from ...

Intricate algae produce low-cost biosensors

Sep 01, 2014

(Phys.org) —Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting miniscule amounts of protein or other biomarkers.

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle

Aug 26, 2014

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles ...

User comments : 0