Researchers Develop Killer Cocktail For Cancer Tumors
While we were downing martinis and dog sleds, celebrating the holidays, researchers at University of California (UC) San Diego, MIT, and UC Santa Barbara were creating nano cocktails to be downed by tumor cells. Your cocktails may have slowed you down a bit, but the nano cocktails were designed to be killers - cancer killers.
Yes, you've heard of nano cocktails before; they've been used to deliver various medicines to diseased cells. Their effectiveness, however, was often stymied by inherent conflicts between the ingredients. They didn't blend well, in other words.
The nano cocktail generally consists of an exploratory nanomaterial, one used to identify and locate tumor cells, and a drug-dispensing nanomaterial used to kill them. But many times, the nanoparticles are not in sync because they "time out" before the tumor is found, or they identify the tumor, but can't do anything about it.
In the current study, chemists, bioengineers, and cell biologists created another two-part cocktail. One nanomaterial, a gold nanorod "activator," was designed to find and adhere to tumors in mice, and a second nanomaterial, composed of either iron oxide nanoworms or doxorubicin-loaded liposomes, to kill the tumors. The nanomaterials were not administered together. Instead, the gold nanorods were administered and, after about three days, were heated by weak laser beams that sensitized them to receive the second nanoparticles. Once the nanoworm or liposome killer particles were administered, they were attracted by the heated nanorods, drawn to the tumor cells, and effectively extinquished the tumor cells.
“Think of them like soldiers attacking an enemy base,” said said Michael Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and the primary author of a paper describing the results. “The gold nanorods are the Special Forces, who come in first to mark the target. Then the Air Force flies in to deliver the laser-guided bomb. The devices are designed to minimize collateral damage to the rest of the body.”
“This study is important because it is the first example of a combined, two-part nanosystem that can produce sustained reduction in tumor volume in live animals,” said Sailor.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.