BUFFALO, N.Y. Chemotherapeutic drugs excel at fighting cancer, but they're not so efficient at getting where they need to go.
They often interact with blood, bone marrow and other healthy bodily systems. This dilutes the drugs and causes unwanted side effects.
Now, researchers are developing a better delivery method by encapsulating the drugs in nanoballoons which are tiny modified liposomes that, upon being struck by a red laser, pop open and deliver concentrated doses of medicine.
Described April 3 in the journal Nature Communications, the innovation could improve cancer treatment, reduce its side effects and boost research about the disease, which annually kills millions of people worldwide.
"Why PoP-liposomes, or nanoballoons, open in response to an otherwise harmless red laser is still a bit of a mystery to us, but we have definitely unearthed a new and unique phenomenon," said corresponding author Jonathan Lovell, PhD, UB assistant professor of biomedical engineering. "Its potential for improving how we treat cancer is immense."
Additional authors include students and a research technician at UB, as well as collaborators from the University at Albany; Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo; and the University of Waterloo and McMaster University, both in Ontario, Canada.
Roughly 1,000 times thinner than human hair, nanoballoons consist of porphyrin, an organic compound, and phospholipid, a fat similar to vegetable oil. Like conventional chemotherapy, they would be delivered to patients intravenously.
But because the nanoballoons encapsulate the anti-cancer drugs, they diminish the drugs' interaction with healthy bodily systems.
In laboratory experiments performed with mice, Lovell hits the nanoballoon with a red laser at the target site in the body. The laser triggers the nanoballoons to pop open and release the drugs. As soon as the laser is turned off, the nanoballoons close, taki
|Contact: Cory Nealon|
University at Buffalo