UCLA team uses diamonds to tackle tricky form of breast cancer

Nanodiamonds combined with chemotherapy targeting breast cancer cells--Courtesy of UCLA

Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles have created a new way to treat the most aggressive kind of breast cancer using tiny clusters of diamonds.

Targeting basal-like breast cancer has proven exceptionally tricky because receptors on those tumor cells don't respond to traditional treatments the way others do. Thus, they have a tendency to be both more aggressive and more likely to recur, according to a UCLA report.

The researchers decreased tumor growth in mice by clustering a chemotherapy drug, epirubicin, with several polygonal nanodiamonds, a combination that, when bound to a cell-membrane material coated with antibodies, precisely targeted the tumor cells via their epidermal growth factor receptor. The diamond-enhanced regimen significantly improved the drugs' desired effect while minimizing the toxic effects of the chemotherapy.

"Triple-negative breast cancer is often very aggressive and hard to treat, making aggressive chemotherapy a requirement," said Dr. Edward K. Chow, co-author of the study, in a statement. "The targeting and therapeutic efficiency of the nanodiamond-lipid agents were quite remarkable. The simultaneous tumor regression and improved drug tolerance are promising indicators for the continued development of the nanodiamonds toward clinical translation."

The study received funding from the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation, among others, and the researchers are continuing trials in larger animals as a precursor to human tests.

- here's the UCLA article