FEB 08, 2022 8:00 AM PST

Biomaterial Makes Cancer Cells 10 Times More Sensitive

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

Tumors have a sneaky strategy of becoming resistant to chemotherapy drugs—they have a way of “pumping” them out, so the cytotoxic chemicals don’t have a chance to destroy the malignant cells within. Even some of the most potent chemotherapies that can penetrate the membranes of cancer cells can, over time, lose their edge, with the tumor again regaining control.

Oncologists sometimes turn to more aggressive strategies in a bid to combat cancer, administering patients with a cocktail of chemo drugs in the hopes that this will slow or possibly even bypass the development of tumor drug resistance. However, even combinations of powerful cancer-killing therapies are no match against some exceptionally resilient tumors.

Another alternative is the use of antibiotics to kill cancer, as these compounds have the ability to target actively dividing cells specifically. Sadly, however, tumors can become resistant to the effects of antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin too. 

Biomedical engineers have been exploring new strategies to overcome drug resistance with the help of special polymers. Some early studies showed that chemically engineering ammonia molecules onto a scaffold of polycarbonate polymers gave the biomaterial superpowers: it could decimate both antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cancer cells, even without the presence of any other drugs.

Now, researchers have developed a cationic polymer that makes cancer cells up to 10 times more sensitive to the effect of cancer-killing drugs. The synergistic effect between the polymer and the chemo drug means that clinicians can slash the amount of toxic, side effect-inducing drugs they give patients while simultaneously preventing drug resistance. 

In their study, the researchers observed that their cationic polymer drove around 2 to 3 times more damage to the cancer cell membrane within the first two hours of contact. This, in turn, enhanced the uptake of the chemotherapeutic in various drug-resistant cancer cells of the breast and liver.

Using drug-polymer combos is an emerging paradigm in cancer treatment and offers many potential benefits over other clinical strategies to fight cancer. For instance, this approach could breathe new life into existing off-the-shelf cancer therapies and eliminate the need for costly drug development efforts that can take years to reach patients.

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
JUN 06, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
New Antibiotic Shows Promise Against Treatment-Resistant Tuberculosis
JUN 06, 2022
New Antibiotic Shows Promise Against Treatment-Resistant Tuberculosis
A new class of antibiotics has shown promise in preclinical trials against drug-resistant tuberculosis. The correspondin ...
JUN 10, 2022
Health & Medicine
What's Being Done to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective Against Future Strains?
JUN 10, 2022
What's Being Done to Make COVID Vaccines More Effective Against Future Strains?
Were you boosted, got Omicron, and still felt like death warmed over twice? It happens, and it’s no secret th ...
JUN 23, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Accelerate diagnostic development with the right supplier
JUN 23, 2022
Accelerate diagnostic development with the right supplier
Diagnostic assays like the one you’re developing are in demand. But your task isn’t simple. Set yourself up ...
JUL 08, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Long COVID: New Hypothesis about the Cause Raises Questions for Science Community
JUL 08, 2022
Long COVID: New Hypothesis about the Cause Raises Questions for Science Community
Long COVID is a term used to describe a wide variety of health problems that some people experience after an infection o ...
JUL 26, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Researchers Recognize New Complicating Factor in Organ Transplantation
JUL 26, 2022
Researchers Recognize New Complicating Factor in Organ Transplantation
Organ transplantation is a life-saving measure that is often a last resort to treat end-stage organ failure. Organ trans ...
AUG 02, 2022
Neuroscience
Could Common Viruses be Triggering Alzheimer's?
AUG 02, 2022
Could Common Viruses be Triggering Alzheimer's?
Recent allegations of research misconduct have called years of Alzheimer's research into question. The controversy surro ...
Loading Comments...