Nanotech penetrates prostate cancer cells armed with chemo drugs

A team of Massachusetts researchers has figured out how to arm nanotech with chemotherapy drugs and successfully target it to hit prostate cancer cells, which absorbed the package well.

Brigham and Women's Hospital's Omid Farokhzad led the research in a team that also included experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital. Further details are published online in the Jan. 3 issue of ACS Nano.

The group chose "smart ligands" that could bind to prostate cancer cells, tell the difference between prostate cancer and regular prostate cells, and also be "desirable" to cancer cells, in the sense that the cancer would be drawn to the ligands in order to absorb them. To complete their drug delivery vehicle, researchers loaded nanoparticles with the chemo drug docetaxel and attached them to the ligands.

Here's what's interesting about this: As the researchers note, their approach could be very effective against prostate cancer because they created a system that encourages a cancer cell to literally engulf the drug delivery package. This brings much more of the cancer drug to its target, rather than conventional treatment methods that only confront the cell surface. Also, their particular approach allows the drug delivery package to be engulfed by all kinds of cancer cells, even if their cancer markers aren't known. Existing nanotechnology cancer treatments only target well-known cancer markers, according to lead author Zeyu Xiao, who works in BWH's Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials.

The advance could also offer an intriguing alternative someday to some newer treatments for the disease, such as Dendreon's ($DNDN) Provenge vaccine for advanced prostate cancer. Provenge has won scientific raves but is enormously expensive to use.

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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