Researchers develop new chemo that targets mitochondrial DNA

UGA researchers Shanta Dhar (center), Rakesh Pathak (right) and Sean Marrache--Courtesy of UGA

Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a new formulation of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin that targets mitochondrial DNA, and is delivered via a polymeric nanoparticle 1,000 times smaller than the width of human hair.

The drug exhibited controlled release from within the mitochondrial matrix, the scientists said in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The breakthrough could ultimately ameliorate cancer cell resistance to cisplatin.

"This technique could become a treatment for a number of cancers, but it may prove most useful for more aggressive forms of cancer that are resistant to current therapies," said University of Georgia postdoctoral research fellow Rakesh Pathak in a new release. 

The nanoparticle formulation was 17 times more active than conventional cisplatin in cisplatin-resistant cultures, the university said. The formulation, dubbed Platin-M, is a prodrug, meaning the compound is chemically inert until the body metabolizes it.

Platin-M was tested again neuroblastoma cancer, which forms in the adrenal glands, but cisplatin is used to treat a variety of cancers including those in the bladder, ovaries, cervix, testicles and lung, says the news release.  The chemotherapy drug  is marketed under the brand names Platinol and Platinol-AQ.

Due to the promise demonstrated by Platin-M in mice, the team of researchers is developing trials for larger animals.

- read the University of Georgia news
- read the study abstract in PNAS

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