Researchers in Los Angeles have developed a nanomed that can take on two crucial roles--diagnosing brain tumors and delivering the drugs that can take them down.
The nano-sized vehicles can carry cancer drugs, proteins and genetic material that attack cancer on several fronts, according to lead researcher Julia Ljubimova of Cedars-Sinai's Nanomedicine Research Center. Ljubimova's team recently pulled in a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Science and published the study in the journal ACS Nano.
The vehicles identify cancer cells in the brain that have spread from other organs, marking them with a tracer that is visible on an MRI and then pumping them with anticancer agents. What's crucial to this method of action is that the delivery particle can pass through the blood-brain barrier with its payload intact. For a long time, this has been a hurdle for delivery vehicles intended for the brain.
"Several drugs are quite effective in treating different types of breast cancers, lung cancer, lymphoma and other cancers at their original sites, but they are ineffective against cancers that spread to the brain because they are not able to cross the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from toxins in the blood," team member Keith Black said in a statement. "The nanodrug is engineered to cross this barrier with its payload intact, so drugs that are effective outside the brain may be effective inside as well."
The scientists implanted different kinds of breast and lung cancers into mice to represent the metastatic disease in the brain. The mice with the nanomed treatment lived significantly longer than mice without it.
- here's the Cedars-Sinai release
- get the research abstract