'Nanobioconjugate' hits brain tumor target

There was a period of time in the early 2000s when the news every day, it seemed, revealed new insights about the underlying causes of diseases. A gene for a predisposition for this was identified, a protein that contributes to that was named. But, beyond naming these possible contributors, the news ended there. Technology did not exist yet to move on to treatment.

Today, nanomedicine is changing that. Advance, a publication for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, gives this example. Nine years ago, scientists at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute in Los Angeles found that a protein called laminin-411 plays a major role in a brain tumor's ability to build new blood vessels to support its growth and spread. But technology did not exist then to block this protein.

Now, the research team has created a "nanobioconjugate" drug that can be carried in the blood to target the brain tumor. It is engineered to specifically permeate the tumor cell wall, entering endosomes, mobile compartments within cells.

According to the researchers, the drug is nontoxic to non-tumor cells; side effects associated with conventional chemotherapy are not an issue with this class of drugs.

"This nanobioconjugate is different from earlier nanomedicine drugs because it delivers and releases antitumor drugs within tumor cells, not just at the site of a tumor," said research scientist Julia Ljubimova.

- read the full article in Advance