Double-Duty Nanoparticles Overcome Drug Resistance in Tumors

Jun 14, 2007

Cancer cells, like bacteria, can develop resistance to drug therapy. In fact, research suggests strongly that multidrug resistant cancer cells that remain alive after chemotherapy are responsible for the reappearance of tumors and the poor prognosis for patients whose cancer recurs. Indeed, multidrug resistance occurs in over 50% of patients whose ovarian cancer relapses, accounting in large part for the high mortality associated with ovarian cancer.

In an attempt to circumvent the mechanisms that cancer cells use to avoid cell death following chemotherapy, researchers at Northeastern University, led by Mansoor Amiji, Ph.D., have created a polymeric nanoparticle that delivers a one-two punch to multidrug resistant ovarian cancer cells.

The first blow comes from the drug ceramide, which overwhelms an enzyme that drug-resistant tumor cells use to avoid apoptosis, the programmed cell death that chemotherapy triggers.

The nanoparticle delivers its second blow in the form of paclitaxel, a potent anticancer agent used as a first-line therapy for ovarian cancer. Amiji, the principal investigator of one of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships, and his colleagues published their results in the journal Cancer Research.

Using drug-resistant ovarian cancer cells growing in culture, the investigators showed that treatment with the multifunctional nanoparticle produced 100% mortality among the cultured cells. Moreover, ceramide co-therapy sensitized the drug-resistant cells to such a degree that they became as sensitive to the cell-killing effects of paclitaxel as are non-drug-resistant ovarian tumor cells. The researchers note that followup experiments showed that nanoparticle-delivered ceramide, in fact, did restore the drug-resistant cells' ability to undergo apoptosis.

This work, which was supported by the National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, is detailed in the paper "Modulation of intracellular ceramide using polymeric nanoparticles to overcome multidrug resistance in cancer." Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital also participated in this study. An abstract of this paper is available through PubMed.

Source: National Cancer Institute

Explore further: Research reveals how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genomes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes sequenced

38 minutes ago

Nora Besansky, O'Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, has led an international team of scientists in sequencing ...

Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

38 minutes ago

High-tech genomics and traditional Chinese medicine come together as researchers identify the genes responsible for the intense bitter taste of wild cucumbers. Taming this bitterness made cucumber, pumpkin ...

Education is key to climate adaptation

38 minutes ago

Given that some climate change is already unavoidable—as just confirmed by the new IPCC report—investing in empowerment through universal education should be an essential element in climate change adaptation ...

Recommended for you

Nanomaterials to preserve ancient works of art

21 hours ago

Little would we know about history if it weren't for books and works of art. But as time goes by, conserving this evidence of the past is becoming more and more of a struggle. Could this all change thanks ...

Learning anti-microbial physics from cicada

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Inspired by the wing structure of a small fly, an NPL-led research team developed nano-patterned surfaces that resist bacterial adhesion while supporting the growth of human cells.

Protons fuel graphene prospects

Nov 26, 2014

Graphene, impermeable to all gases and liquids, can easily allow protons to pass through it, University of Manchester researchers have found.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.