Using nanoparticles to lessen prostate cancer drug side effects

Nanotech researchers are again showing that cancer drugs delivered via nanoparticles can reduce unpleasant and painful side effects. Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital say they can deliver the cancer drug cisplatin much more effectively and safely in a form that has been encapsulated in a nanoparticle targeted to prostate tumor cells and is activated once it reaches its target.

The researchers shrunk tumors in mice using only one-third the amount of conventional cisplatin. Using lesser amounts could reduce cisplatin's potentially severe side effects, which include kidney damage and nerve damage. In 2008, the researchers showed that the nanoparticles worked in cancer cells grown in a lab dish. Now that the particles have shown promise in animals, the team hopes to move on to human tests.

Doctors began using cisplatin to treat cancer in the late 1970s. The drug destroys cancer cells by cross-linking their DNA, ultimately triggering cell death. And despite adverse side effects, about half of all cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are taking platinum drugs.

- read the MIT release