Johns Hopkins University researchers are leading an effort to develop doxorubicin nanoparticles that protect the heart and reduce resistance to the cancer drug.
The researchers led by the Johns Hopkins University Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence created a polymer nanoparticle that combined curcumin, one of the main components of the bright yellow spice turmeric, with doxorubicin. Curcumin, which gives the spice its color, is active against cancer cells in its own right, and in high doses also can overcome multidrug resistance, but isn't readily available to the body because it is poorly soluble.
Creating a nanoparticle improves this availability, and on the bench and in animal models, the NanoDoxCurc particles overcame resistance and cut cancer growth, including in multiple myeloma, leukemia, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer, with the mice showing no signs of heart or bone marrow damage.
By cutting the risk of damage to the heart, a particular problem in children, nanoparticles of this type could help improve the effectiveness and safety of cancer treatment. However, it is important to remember that this has only reached animal studies so far.