Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have successfully used nanoparticles to deliver bone cancer drugs to dogs, which are closer in size and biology to humans and have naturally occurring bone cancers that behave a lot like human bone tumors.
In their report, which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the engineer and veterinarian researchers said the dogs were able to tolerate high doses of nanoparticles that contained cancer drugs with no signs of toxicity. The particles targeted tumor sites with the help of a coating of pamidronate, which binds to degraded areas in bone.
In their findings, materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng and veterinary clinical medicine professor Dr. Timothy Fan said they proved the concept that nanoparticles can be used to target bone cancers in large mammals--an approach, they said, that could someday be used to treat metastatic skeletal cancers.
“We wanted to see if we could evaluate these drug-delivery strategies, not only in a mouse model, but also at a scale that would mimic what a person would get,” Fan said in a statement. “The amount of nanoparticle that we ended up giving to these dogs was a thousand-fold greater in quantity than what we would typically give a mouse.”
The canines used in the study were companion animals suffering from bone cancer whose owners submitted them for research. All of the dogs weighed between 88 to 132 pounds.
Although working with dogs versus mice is better in terms of understanding the impact on humans, the canines have their limitations. The dogs the researchers typically get to work with arrive at their clinic in a very advanced stage of the disease. In humans, however, bone cancer is usually detected much earlier.