Nano-Vehicle acts as cluster bomb for tumors

September 18, 2010, National Cancer Institute

Chemotherapy, while an effective cancer treatment, also brings debilitating side effects such as nausea, liver toxicity, and a battered immune system. Now, a new way to deliver this life-saving therapy to cancer patients -- getting it straight to the source of the disease -- has been developed by Dan Peer and Rimona Margalit and their colleagues at Tel Aviv University. Drs. Peer and Margalit have developed a nano-sized vehicle with the ability to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into cancer cells while avoiding interaction with healthy cells, increasing the efficiency of chemotherapeutic treatment while reducing its side effects.

"The vehicle is very similar to a cluster bomb," explains Dr. Peer. Inside the nano-vehicle itself are nanoparticles loaded with . When the , comprising multiple nanoparticles, comes into contact with cancer cells, it releases the chemotherapeutic payload directly into the cell. According to Dr. Peer, the nanoparticle device can be used to treat many different types of cancer, including lung, blood, colon, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and even several types of brain cancers. A paper describing their new nanoparticles and their use in targeting tumors appears in the journal Biomaterials.

The key to the platform is hyaluronan, the molecule used to create the outer coating of this clustered nanoparticle. Hyaluronan is a sugar recognized by receptors on many types of cancer cells. "When the nano-vehicle interacts with the receptor on the cancerous cell, the receptor undergoes a structural change and the chemotherapy payload is released directly into the cancer cell," says Dr. Peer. The result, he explains, is a more to more focused chemotherapeutic treatment against the diseased cells.

Because the nanoparticle reacts only with cancer cells, the healthy cells that surround them remain untouched and unaffected by the therapy. The nano-vehicle itself, adds Dr. Peer, is made from naturally occurring lipid molecules that decompose in the body once the nanoparticles have performed their function, making the treatment potentially safer than current therapies. Tests with tumor-bearing mice showed that hyaluronan-coated nanoparticles filled with paclitaxel were more effective than either free paclitaxel or Abraxane—an albumin nanoparticle loaded with paclitaxel—at stopping tumor growth.

This work is detailed in a paper titled, "Paclitaxel-clusters coated with hyaluronan as selective tumor-targeted nanovectors." An abstract of this paper is available at the journal's Web site.

Explore further: Cluster bomb for cancer care: Nano-vehicles to deliver chemotherapy treatments on target

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5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2010
Great news. I think I've heard a hundred or so different articles with teams using this same principle. Hopefully one of them will actually get going on human trials.
1 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2010
Great news. I think I've heard a hundred or so different articles with teams using this same principle. Hopefully one of them will actually get going on human trials.

Not if the FDA has anything to say about it.
not rated yet Sep 19, 2010
Human trials need to begin soon - next year at the latest. I'm sure there is no shortage of people willing to "risk" it over chemo. I had a friend who died from the effects of chemo, not his cancer. And with no effect on healthy cells, more frequent applications should be possible to improve odds on destroying cancer cells. SO LET THE HUMAN TRIALS BEGIN.
not rated yet Sep 19, 2010
I find myself greatly doubting that Dr. Peer knows what a cluster bomb is.

A 'cluster bomb' is an ordinance that fragments into submunitions which saturate an area of effect with explosions, and is hence in no way a particularly 'targeted' weapon.

Furthermore, 'cluster bombs' are notorious for leaving unexploded submunitions upon or shallowly buried beneath the ground; these present a hazard of injury or death to civilian (rather than enemy) humans long after the cessation of hostilities. Hence they are gloriously ill suited to the metaphor which Dr. Peer has attempted to make of them.

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