Combo drug, Dx nanomedicine delivers cancer-fighting payload

Swedish researchers have developed trackable nanoparticles that may be a more targeted and effective delivery tool in the fight against cancer.

Scientists from Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology and the Chalmers University of Technology put the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin in small vehicles called theranostic nanoparticles. These tiny capsules also contain an isotope of fluorine, which is visible in an MRI scan, making it possible to track the drug on its way to the site of a tumor. The benefit of being able to visualize the treatment is that it allows caregivers to determine the location and effectiveness of the drug's release, providing a clear and precise diagnostic.

The innovative combination of drug and diagnostic, used to treat breast cancer in this study, could eventually make its way to treating other diseases such as brain tumors, pancreatic cancer and drug-resistant breast tumors, according to a release from Karolinska Institutet. These cancers, which are currently difficult to treat, could be more manageable with a trackable, more targeted approach.

The biodegradable nanoparticles could also teach researchers more about how chemotherapy is taken up in a tumor, ideally leading to more effective treatments with fewer side effects.

The use of nanomedicine to deliver cancer treatments is a rapidly growing technique; from "programmable" antibodies to drugs that act like cells to "self-destruct" messages, the ability of nanomaterials to target and neutralize cancer cells has been demonstrated in the academic setting time and again. The next step is to test their payload--therapeutic and financial--in the biopharma industry.

- here's the release