Nano drugs can kill skin, breast cancer cells

December 27th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 27 (IANS) Nanoparticles 5,000 times as small as a human hair, carrying an experimental anti-cancer agent, kill human melanoma and drug-resistant breast cancer cells growing in lab cultures.The discovery could lead to the development of a new generation of anti-cancer drugs that are safer and more effective than conventional chemotherapy agents, researchers suggested.

Mark Kester, James Adair and colleagues at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Centre and University Park campus point out that certain nanoparticles have shown promise as drug delivery vehicles.

However, many of these particles will not dissolve in body fluids and are toxic to cells, making them unsuitable for drug delivery in humans. Although promising as an anti-cancer agent, ceramide also is insoluble in the blood stream making delivery to cancer cells difficult.

The scientists report a potential solution with development of calcium phosphate nanocomposite particles (CPNPs). The particles are soluble and with ceramide encapsulated with the calcium phosphate, effectively make ceramide soluble, said a Penn State release.

With ceramide encapsulated inside, the CPNPs killed 95 percent of human melanoma cells and were “highly effective” against human breast cancer cells that are normally resistant to anticancer drugs, the researchers say.

The study was published in the December issue of Nano Letters.

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