New nanoscale method to help in fight against cancer
Researchers have developed an innovative cancer-fighting technique in which custom-designed nanoparticles carry chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells and release their cargo when triggered by a two-photon laser in the infrared red wavelength.
Light-activated drug delivery holds promise for treating cancer because it give doctors control over precisely when and where in the body drugs are released.
Delivering and releasing chemotherapy drugs so that they hit only tumor cells and not surrounding healthy tissues can greatly reduce treatment side effects and increase the drugs' cancer-killing effect. But the development of a drug-delivery system that responds to tissue-penetrating light has been a major challenge.
To address this, UCLA's Jeffrey Zink, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Fuyu Tamanoi, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and other scientists from the Jonsson Cancer Center's cancer nanotechnology and signal transduction and therapeutics programs, collaborated with Jean-Olivier Durand from France's University of Montpellier to develop a new type of nanoparticle that can absorb energy from tissue-penetrating light.
These new nanoparticles are equipped with thousands of pores, or tiny tubes, that can hold chemotherapy drugs. The ends of the pores are capped with nanovalves that keep the drugs in, like a cork in a bottle.
The nanovalves contain special molecules that respond to energy from two-photon light exposure, which prompts the valves to open and release the drugs.
The operation of the nanoparticles was demonstrated in the laboratory using human breast cancer cells.
The study has been published online in the journal Small.
(Posted on 03-03-2014)