Understanding Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology and Nanoparticles in Chemotherapy

The use of nanoparticles in chemotherapy offers some exciting possibilities, including the possibility of destroying cancer tumors with minimal damage to healthy tissue and organs. This page provides a survey of the nanotechnology based methods being developed to improve chemotherapy.

A Survey of Methods using Nanotechnology and Nanoparticles to improve Chemotherapy

One treatment being tested in clincal trials involves targeted chemotherapy that delivers a tumor-killing agent called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) to cancer tumors.  TNF is attached to a gold nanoparticle along with Thiol-derivatized polyethylene glycol (PEG-THIOL), which hides the TNF bearing nanoparticle from the immune system. This allows the nanoparticle to flow through the blood stream without being attacked. For more details read the article at this link. The company developing this targeted chemotherapy method to deliver TNF and other chemotherapy drugs to cancer tumors is called CytImmune.

Another technique delivers chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells and also applies heat to the cell. Researchers are using gold nanorods to which DNA strands are attached. The DNA strands act as a scaffold, holding together the nanorod and the chemotherapy drug. When Infrared light illuminates the cancer tumor the gold nanorod absorbs the infrared light, turning it into heat. The heat both releases the chemotherapy drug and helps destroy the cancer cells.

Researchers at UCLA have developed a method to fight pancreatic cancer using two different nanoparticles. The first nanoparticle removes material on the exterior of the cancer cells that block the entry of chemotherapy drugs, the second nanoparticle carries the chemothreapy drug. Testing this method on laboratory mice showed significantly faster shrinkage of the tumors than other methods.

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and IBM researchers have demonstrated sustained drug delivery using a hydrogel. The hydrogel is injected under the skin, allowing continuous drug release for weeks, with only one injection, rather than repeated injections. They demonstrated this method by injecting the hydrogel, containing the chemotherapy drug herceptin, under the skin of laboratory mice. The study showed significant reduction in tumor size.

Another targeted chemotherapy technique uses polymer nanoparticles to to carry the a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel. The nanoparticles are attracted to a protein present on many types of cancer tumors, resulting in a high rate of delivery of the chemotherapy drug to the tumors. For more details read the article at this link. The company developing this targeted chemotherapy method is called BIND Biosciences.

Researchers are testing the use of chemotherapy drugs attached to nanodiamonds to treat brain tumors. The nanodiamond/chemotherapy drug combination stays in the tumor longer than the chemotherapy drug by itself, which should increase the effectiveness.

Researchers are connecting different DNA strands together into a structure they call a "nanotrain".  They have demostrated in lab studies that these nanotrains are effective in delivering chemothreapy drugs to cancer cells, and that by using different DNA strands they can customize which type of cancer cells the nanotrains target.

Researchers are testing a nanoparticle carrying a chemothreapy drug (camptothecin) along with a antibody (herceptin) that targets breast cancer cells. The lab tests in mice produced very postitive results.

Researchers at UC San Diego have encapsulated an anti-cancer drug called staurosporine in liposome nanoparticles. They demonstrated the staurosporine bearing particles were effective in suppressing tumors in mice without apparent side effects.

Researchers are developing a nanoparticle that both delivers a chemotherapy drug and stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells. They have tested the method on mice with positive results.

Reseachers have demonstrated a nanoparticle that kills lymphoma cancer cells. They use a nanoparticle which looks like HDL cholesterol, but with a gold nanoparicle at it's core. When this nanoparticle attaches to a lymphoma cell it blocks the cancer cell from attaching to real HLD cholesterol, starving the cancer cell.

Researchers have demonstrated a method of delivering a protein to cancer cells that destroys the cancer cells. They use a polymer nanoshell to deliver the protein into the cancer cells. When the protein accumlates in the nucleus of the cancer cell the protein causes the cancer cell to self-destruct.

Researchers are using a photosensitizing agent to enhance the ability of drug carrying nanoparticles to enter tumors. First they let the photosensitizing agent accumulate in the tumor, then illuminate the tumor with infrared light. The photosensitizing agent causes the blood vessels in the tumor to be more porous, therefore more drug carrying nanoparticles can enter the tumor.

A method being developed to fight skin cancer uses gold nanoparticles to which RNA molecules are attached. The nanoparticles are in an ointment that is applied to the skin. The nanoparticles penetrate the skin and the RNA attaches to a cancer related gene, stopping the gene from generating proteins that are used in the growth of skin cancer tumors.

A method being developed to fight bladder cancer uses nanoparticles called micelles to deliver a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel to bladder cancer cells.

An intriguing targeted chemotherapy method uses one nanoparticle to deliver the chemotherapy drug and a separate nanoparticle to guide the drug carrier to the tumor. First gold nanorods circulating through the bloodstream exit where the blood vessels are leaking at the site of cancer tumors. Once the nanorods accumulate at the tumor they are used to concentrate the heat from infrared light; heating up the tumor. This heat increases the level of a stress related protein on the surface of the tumor. The drug carrying nanoparticle (a liposome) is attached to amino acids that bind to this protein, so the increased level of protein at the tumor speeds up the accumulation of the chemotherapy drug carrying liposome at the tumor. For more details read the article at this link.

An improved way to shield nanoparticles delivering chemotherapy drugs from the immune system has been developed by forming the nanoparticles from the membranes of red blood cells.

Researchers have demonstrated a method of delivering a protein to cancer cells that destroys the cancer cells. They use a polymer nanoshell to deliver the protein into the cancer cells. When the protein accumlates in the nucleus of the cancer cell the protein causes the cancer cell to self-destruct.

Reseachers have demonstrated a nanoparticle that kills lymphoma cancer cells. They use a nanoparticle which looks like HDL cholesterol, but with a gold nanoparicle at it's core. When this nanoparticle attaches to a lymphoma cell it blocks the cancer cell from attaching to real HLD cholesterol, starving the cancer cell.

Using gold nanoparticles to deliver platinum to cancer tumors may reduce the side effects of platinum cancer therapy. The key is that the toxicity level of platinum depends upon the molecule it is bonded to (for the tech types the toxicity depends upon the oxidation state of the platinum). So the researchers chose a platinum containing molecule that has low toxicity to attach to the gold nanoparticles. When the platinum bearing nanoparticle reaches a cancer tumor it encounters an acidic solution which changes the platinum to it's toxic state, in which it can kill cancer cells. For more details read the article at this link

Other researchers are taking a different approach to delivering platinum to cancer tumors. Instead of attaching platinum to nanoparticles they have used molecular building blocks to produce nanoparticles designed to deliver platinum to cancer tumors.  For more details read the article at this link.

Using polymer nanoparticles to deliver a molecule called JSI-124 to cancer tumors. This molecule degrades the ability of the cancer cells to suppress the immune system, possibly slowing the growth of cancer tumors. For more details read the article at this link.

Compiled by Earl Boysen of Hawk's Perch Technical Writing, LLC and UnderstandingNano.com. You can find him on Google+.

 

 

 

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