Researchers are currently studying a new cancer treatment that will make use of nanoparticles to eliminate tumor cells.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology demonstrated how a new cancer treatment uses nanoparticles to target and kill a form of endometrial cancer. Researchers from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy allegedly combined traditional chemotherapy and a new cancer drug that attacks chemo-resistant cancer cells to conduct their research.
The results of the three-year lab study enabled the researchers to create an “extremely selective and lethal cancer treatment.” This is the first time in the history of medicine, especially cancer research, that such method has been used to treat the deadly endometrial cancer.New #CancerTreatment targets tumor cells in women with endometrial cancer. #medicine #breakthroughClick To Tweet
According to World Cancer Research Fund International, endometrial cancer is considered as the sixth most common cancer in women worldwide. In the United States alone, women diagnosed with endometrial cancer only have a 5-year relative survival rate of 69%. However, the survival rate can go as high as 91% for those who were diagnosed early and were able to receive necessary treatments.
Should the new cancer treatment using nanoparticles passed human trials, it is expected to improve the survival rate of women diagnosed with type II endometrial cancer around the world.
Nanoparticles and the new Cancer Treatment
The new cancer treatment was created by combing two anti-cancer drugs, Paclitaxel and Nintedanib (BIBF). Paclitaxel is a type of chemotherapy designed explicitly for treating endometrial cancer. On the other hand, Nintedanib is a relatively new drug being used today to restrict the growth of blood vessels in tumors.
For this particular study, the researchers placed Nintedanib in nanoparticles and used them to target tumor cells with a certain kind of mutation called Loss of Function p53. The Loss of Function p53 is the mutation accounted for the life cycle interruption of the tumor cells which make them resistant to chemotherapy.
“In this particular study, we took on one of the biggest challenges in cancer research, which is tumor targeting,” UI pharmacy science graduate student and lead researcher of the study, Kareem Ebeid, said.
“And for the first time, we were able to combine two different tumor-targeting strategies and use them to defeat deadly type II endometrial cancer. We believe this treatment could be used to fight other cancers, as well.”
It appears that while Paclitaxel chemotherapy can kill cells in the process of dividing (mitosis), the Loss of Function p53 mutation slows down the process and eventually turns the cancer cells resistant to the treatment. This is where the nanoparticles come into play.
The Nintedanib-loaded nanoparticles target the cancer cells with Loss of Function p53 mutation and force them to divide, making it easier for the Paclitaxel chemotherapy to eliminate them. Ebeid said that this is the first time that Nintedanib has been used to force tumor cells into mitosis to kill them, a phenomenon they referred to as synthetic lethality.
“Basically, we are taking advantage of the tumor cells’ Achilles heel—the Loss of Function mutation—and then sweeping in and killing them with chemotherapy. We call this a synthetically lethal situation because we are creating the right conditions for massive cell death,” Ebeid further added.
The researchers also confirmed that the new cancer treatment could be used to treat other kinds of cancer that also carry the Loss of Function p53 mutation such as ovarian and lung cancers. Aliasger Salem, a corresponding author on the study and a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the UI, said:
“We believe our research could have a positive impact beyond the treatment of endometrial cancer. We hope that since the drugs used in our study have already been approved for clinical use, we will be able to begin working with patients soon.”
We hope that since the drugs used in our study have already been approved for clinical use, we will be able to begin working with patients soon.