Nano-sized particles shrink tumours

April 3rd, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 3 (IANS) There is some hope for cancer patients weary of debilitating and prolonged chemotherapy sessions, thanks to nano-particles. Researchers have edged one step closer to the goal by focussing a powerful drug directly on tumours in rabbits using drug-coated nanoparticles, bearing a dosage thousand times lower than used previously, which slowed tumour growth.

“Many chemotherapeutic drugs have unwanted side effects, and we’ve shown that our nanoparticle technology has the potential to increase drug effectiveness and decrease drug dose to alleviate harmful side effects,” said Patrick M. Winter of Washington University and a co-author of the study.

The nanoparticles are extremely tiny beads of an inert, oily compound that can be coated with a wide variety of active substances.

In an article, the researchers have described a significant reduction of tumour growth in rabbits, treated with nanoparticles coated with a fungal toxin called fumagillin. Similarly, human trials have shown that fumagillin can be an effective cancer treatment in combination with other anti-cancer drugs.

In addition to fumagillin, the nanoparticles’ surfaces held molecules designed to stick to proteins found primarily on the cells of growing blood vessels.

So the nanoparticles latched on to sites of blood vessel proliferation and released their fumagillin load into blood vessel cells. Fumagillin blocks multiplication of blood vessel cells, so it inhibited tumours from expanding their blood supply and slowed their growth.

Human trials have also shown that fumagillin nanoparticles in much lower doses were effective because they target tumours where they create new blood vessels. Rabbits receiving fumagillin nanoparticles showed no adverse side effects.

These findings were published online in the FASEB Journal.

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