Researchers at the University of California and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine announced the development of a new way to deliver chemotherapeutic agents to the brain. Results of the study were published in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.
Nanotechnology has been used to create targeted therapy for several different types of cancer. For example, nanodiamonds have been used to treat breast and liver cancer. However, few research initiatives have targeted glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
Nanodiamonds are small particles of carbon atoms. Arranged like an angular soccer ball, nanodiamond surfaces are hydrophilic. This allows them to attract water and other molecules, such as drugs. By binding anticancer drugs to diamonds, researchers are able to improve agent uptake in cancerous tumors. While tumors may normally reject chemotherapeutics, a chemotherapeutic agent attached to a nanoparticle is readily absorbed by many tumors.
In the latest study, researcher bound doxorubicin, a chemotherapy agent, to nanodiamonds. These were then delivered directly to a tumor through injection. Since nanodiamonds bind to the chemotherapy agent until it reaches the tumor, this type of nanotechnology can protect healthy cells in the body and minimize the risk of side effects.
When nanodiamonds reach a tumor, the unique physiological properties of cancer cells promote the release of doxorubicin. With this delivery method, doxorubicin remains in a tumor for a longer period of time, decreasing the viability of cancerous cells. In addition, nanodiamonds can limit the spread of doxorubicin to surrounding, healthy cells.
"Nanomaterials are promising vehicles for treating different types of cancer," noted Dean Ho, co-director of the Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at UCLA. "We're looking for the drugs and situations where nanotechnology actually helps chemotherapy function better, making it easier on the patient and harder on the cancer."