Nanomedicine breakthrough could improve chemotherapy for childhood cancer

November 20, 2012

In a world-first, researchers from the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney have developed a nanoparticle that could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for neuroblastoma by a factor of five.

Neuroblastoma is an aggressive childhood cancer that often leaves survivors with lingering health problems due to the high doses of chemotherapy drugs required for treatment. Anything that can potentially reduce these doses is considered an important development.

The UNSW researchers developed a non-toxic nanoparticle that can deliver and release nitric oxide (NO) to specific cancer cells in the body. The findings of their in vitro experiments have been published in the journal Chemical Communications.

"When we injected the chemo drug into the neuroblastoma cells that had been pre-treated with our new nitric oxide nanoparticle we needed only one-fifth the dose," says co-author Dr Cyrille Boyer from the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW.

"By increasing the effectiveness of these chemotherapy drugs by a factor of five, we could significantly decrease the detrimental side-effects to healthy cells and surrounding tissue."

This synergistic effect between nitric oxide and chemotherapy drugs had previously been reported in other cancer cell lines, but the delivery compounds were potentially toxic and had very poor stability, or shelf life.

In contrast, the UNSW-developed nanoparticle is non-toxic and has a shelf life that has been extended from two days to more than two weeks: "Drug storage is critical and this is a substantial improvement over previous nitric oxide-carrier compounds," says Boyer.

Nitric Oxide is an important cellular signalling molecule involved in many physical and mental processes, and deficiencies have been associated with heightened susceptibility to cancer, liver fibrosis, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases.

"If we can restore nitric oxide with these nanoparticles this could have implications for all the illnesses associated with NO deficiencies, including diabetes and neurodegenerative," he says.

The key medical challenge, says Boyer, has been figuring out a way to deliver appropriate doses to specific sites within the body, without provoking an adverse reaction. The Australian Centre for Nanomedicine - which crosses science, engineering and medicine - is investigating multi-disciplinary solutions.

Boyer says that while biologists have experimented with nitric oxide, mixing it with cancer cells and observing the reactions, "no one has tried to develop a platform to specifically deliver nitric oxide - that is, where you want it, when you want it".

The next step is to test the nanoparticle on other cell lines, such as lung and colon cancer cells, and to proceed to in vivo tests. The team also included researchers from the Children's Cancer Institute Australia based at UNSW's Lowy Cancer Research Centre.
-end-


University of New South Wales

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.