Medicine has been attempting to fight cancer for decades, but now scientists are calling for something better. For example, biomedical engineer Elizabeth Wayne says that there is a need for a better cancer drug delivery system. This would be something that improves upon chemotherapy, which kills the body's healthy cells at the same time that it kills cancer cells.
Wayne's own research revolves around immune cells, which travel around the body through the bloodstream on the lookout for invading pathogens. And since these cells are already circulating, "why not add an extra passenger?" Wayne asks.
She and her team developed a nanoparticle made of lipids to attach to immune cells, containing two key components: E-selectin, which Wayne says acts as the "glue," and Trail, a therapeutic drug designed to selectively kill cancer cells. This method of drug delivery was designed to kill tumor cells and prevent cancer from metastasizing - moving from tissue to issue - a common phenomenon that drastically reduces the chances of survival.
Wayne found success testing this approach in mice models, with the new drug delivery system effectively killing tumor cells and preventing the spread of cancer.
Wayne says that this technology "represents a paradigm shift, a revolution" in the way drugs are delivered. And its applications involve more than just treating cancer; this delivery system could expand to wound-healing or treating other diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.