Potential new nanotechnology cancer treatment has ‘astounding’ results

New method of delivering cancer treatment
Image Credit: Rama, Creative Commons

A team of researchers in Texas believe a new method of delivering cancer treatment could revolutionise treatment for cancer metastases in the lungs and liver after successful trials using mice.

Publishing their findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team of scientists developed the method of delivering existing cancer drugs to affected organs using what they describe as an injectable nanoparticle generator, or iNPG, which has the ability to bypass tumour cell’s ability to develop drug resistance. The new treatment could deliver the drug directly to the nucleus of the metastatic disease cell, effectively killing the tumour.

In the study, 50% of the mice treated had no trace of any metastatic disease after a period of eight months - equivalent to around 24 years of disease-free survival in humans.

Dr Mauro Ferrari, the scientist who led the study at the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas, has been working in the field of nanomedicine for 20 years. He describes the results in mice as unprecedented and says it is hoped that clinical trials on the first human patients could begin as early as 2017.

Laboratory Testing

“To my very best understanding, this is the first case we’ve ever seen of a therapy with a well understood mechanism that can provide long-term, disease-free survival of our pre-clinical animal populations,” says Dr Ferrari.

“If this bears out in the clinical realm, even a short fraction in the preclinical experimentation that we did, it will be transformational. It will be the first ever demonstration of a cure of metastatic disease to the lungs,” he adds.

According to researchers, the majority of cancer deaths are due to metastases to vital organs, and existing treatments can fail to reach cancer cells in sufficient quantities to be effective. In addition, many standard treatments have an adverse effect on healthy tissue causing unpleasant and often debilitating side effects.

Dr Ferrari adds: “I would never want to overpromise to the thousands of cancer patients looking for a cure, but the data is astounding. We’re talking about changing the landscape of curing metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence.”

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