MAY 24, 2016 03:32 AM PDT

Nanomedicine Delivers Chemotherapy Drugs to Brain Tumors

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

By packing chemotherapy drugs in nanoscale lipid droplets, researchers say they may have found a new way to treat one of the deadliest forms of primary brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Nanotheraputics, as this field of medicine is now called, combines nanotechnology, chemistry, and bioengineering into a remarkable system with seemingly “endless and bright” possibilities, said Ann-Marie Broome, senior author of the newly published study.

 
Image credit: Pixabay.com
 

 Dubbed as the “octopus tumor,” GBMs are characterized with malignant glial cells forming vast networks of tendrils throughout the brain. This makes it nearly impossible to surgically remove all the cancerous tissues. As such, this brain cancer can evade even the most aggressive surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiotherapies, leaving patients with a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent.
 
Another part of the reason why chemotherapy is ineffective against GBM is the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Designed to protect the brain from the environment, the BBB also prevents drugs from passing through to act on the GBM cancer cells.
 
To breach the BBB, Broome and her team aimed at creating nanocarriers that could ferry drugs into the brain. They designed a micelle – “a bit of fat globule” – that was so small it easily slipped past the BBB. Inside the micelle, the team packaged the chemotherapy drug, temozolomide (TMZ).
 
"Micelles of a certain size will cross the blood-brain barrier carrying a concentrated amount of TMZ," Broome said. To the micelles, they also incorporated platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF), which are proteins that are overexpressed in the cancer cells. "The PDGF is used much like a postal address. The micelle gets it to the street, and the PDGF gets it to the house."
 
Once inside the cancer, the team exploited cancer’s unnatural acidic environment to trigger the release of the drug. "We take advantage of the tumor's natural environment as well as the cellular expression. I'm a big proponent of understanding that microenvironment has an impact on how well you can treat tumors. It's probably why so many therapeutics fail - because you have to take into account the immune system, the local environment, and the cells themselves - all three of these are important considerations."
 
In experiment results, this method worked so well that Broome initially questioned her results. "I was very surprised by how efficiently and well it worked once we got the nanocarrier to those cells," said Broome. But after many validation experiments in different cell lines and using different drug concentrations, the results still proved promising.
 
In the next phase, Broome anticipates more testing with different drugs and other biomarkers for GBM. "[TMZ] may or may not be effective for all types of GBMs. There are subtypes as well as therapeutic-resistant GBMs that these nanocarriers may not impact. We need to continue rigorous testing to verify and validate our initial findings."
 
But for now, the team is excited for the possibilities that have opened up with this nanotherapeutics technology. 
 


Additional source: Medical University Of South Carolina news release

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 28, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 28, 2018
Bacterial Toxin Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Scientists have found evidence that it's not a bacterium, but one of its toxins, that is connected to, and possibly causing intestinal dysfunction....
JUN 08, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 08, 2018
Early Detection of Tooth Decay from Bacterial Invasion
We all get cavities, but have we ever thought much about the biology of the process? From the Akson Russian Science Communication Association, scientists i...
JUN 16, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 16, 2018
Nanoparticles Deliver "Theranostics" for Cancer Patients
New technology combing therapeutic agents and diagnostics (theranostics) can be used to deliver drugs to cancer cells. From the Moscow Institute of Physics...
AUG 22, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 22, 2018
New Clinical Assay Useful For Urothelial Cancer
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved a pharmDx assay called ‘Dako PD-L1 IHC 22C3’ by Agilent Technologies Inc. for use in u...
SEP 21, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
SEP 21, 2018
We will teach you to be a doctor, said us to the machine.
Clinical diagnosis are now possible in the hands of computers through machine learning. Whence, the reports of successful trials for the diagnostics....
NOV 29, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 29, 2018
Pet Genomics Might Need to be Leashed
Experts say genetic testing for pets is not quite ready for the market, but that hasn't stopped companies from selling tests....
Loading Comments...