Drug Carrying Nanoparticles to Inhibit Growth of Cancer Cells in Brain

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Novel nanoparticles are liposomes, fatty droplets that can carry one drug on the inside and another in the outer layer in order to destroy cancerous cells in brain

Researchers from MIT developed nanoparticles, which can efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver two types of drugs to fight tumors. On the inside, the particles are filled with a common chemotherapy drug called temozolomide, while the outer shell contains more experimental substance known as JQ-1. The research was published in the journal Nature Communications in May 2018. Temozolomide damages the DNA of cancer cells, while JQ-1 is a type of bromodomain inhibitor, which reduces the tumor’s ability to repair that DNA damage. Researchers coated particles with transferrin protein, which will help nanoparticles to cross blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, the whole molecule was coated in a polymer called Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) to protect the nanoparticles from being attacked by the immune system.

As a part of the study, the researchers administered them to mice with glioblastoma tumors. It was found that nanoparticles efficiently inhibited growth of tumors and prevent them from growing back. First, the outer layers dissolved and released the JQ-1, shutting down the cancer cells’ repair systems. Furthermore, mice treated with nanoparticles covered in transferrin was found to be most effective. Mice treated with those survived twice as long as animals that were treated with either nanoparticles that didn’t contain transferrin.

However, temozolomide have some disadvantages such as it damages blood cells throughout the body, causing bruising, nausea, weakness and other unwanted issues. Mice treated with the nanoparticles saw much less of these side effect as compared animals given the drugs straight. All of the individual components of the nanoparticles have been approved for human use by the FDA, which are expected to accelerate the transition to clinical trials. Since this method can get into the brain, it could carry different drug payloads that might have been previously overlooked.

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