By: Erin Moore for Medtech1
Researchers around the country are focusing on a novel method of cancer detection and treatment: nanotechnology. Most people are unaware of this exciting new field of study because it is in the pre-clinical phase; in other words, it has not reached human trials as of yet. While nanotechnology holds promise for a number of disease states, cancer is one of the areas in which positive results have occurred.
Sadly, some cancers are multi-drug resistant (MDR). That is, they do not respond to any available type of drug therapy. Sometimes cancers are MDR on first diagnosis, and more commonly they are MDR if and when they recur. Scientists have identified two reasons why this may be so: poor drug delivery and cellular resistance. Currently, chemotherapy is administered via liquid infusion. Nanoparticles, on the other hand, are microscopic crystals that have effectively delivered higher levels of drug to tumor in animal models. Not only can these nanoparticles load 10 to 100 times more drug into the tumor site, but they can deliver the drug in a targeted manner. The particle is constructed so that it travels through the body and only dissolves, releasing the drug, once it reaches the affected area. This breakthrough also means that side effects are significantly reduced, because healthy tissue is not subject to drug effects. In animal studies, treatment via nanoparticles led to higher drug concentrations throughout tumors as well as significantly greater tumor suppression than with standard drug delivery methods.
To learn more about nanotechnology for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer Web site here.
Source: Mansoor Amiji, Northeastern University, and Omid Farokhzad, Harvard University, BIO Conference 2007.