Israeli breakthrough: Nano-vehicle targets cancer cells

Tel Aviv researchers develop new intravascular vehicle that selectively delivers a chemotherapy drug into tumors, sparing healthy cells.

nanotechnology 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of BIU)
nanotechnology 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of BIU)
A new nanobiology tool developed by scientists in Tel-Aviv University was shown to enhance selective chemotherapy delivery into tumors, the journal Biomaterials reported this week. According to the researchers this may be used in future in humans to deliver high doses of life-saving chemotherapy into tumors without exposing cancer patients to dreadful side effects.
A major problem regarding chemotherapy is its nonselective effects. Chemotherapeutic agents are very effective against cancer cells but damage normal healthy cells in the patient’s body. The risks are numerous and include liver toxicity and bone marrow suppression that in some cases may even be life-threatening. The new nano-vehicle developed is meant to overcome these problems.   
By coating the outer surface of the drug with a certain sugar, researchers succeeded in inducing the nano particles within it to selectively target tumor cells in mice. The coating sugar molecule, called Hyaluronan, was recognized by receptors on cancer cells, enabling delivery of the chemotherapy drug from the particles directly into these cells.
Selective delivery of the drug into tumors caused tumor arrest in the mice treated, and was potent as a 4-fold higher dose of the same drug when delivered in the conventional way.   
Source: Biomaterials, Volume 31, Issue 27, September 2010, pp. 7106-14.
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