The ability to use nanoparticles to deliver payloads of cancer-fighting drugs to tumors in the body could herald a fundamental change in chemotherapy treatment. But scientists are still at a relatively early stage in the implementation of this technology.
Although developing nanoparticles that work as "magic bullets" selectively targeting tumors while sparing normal, healthy tissues is still the goal, the reality is that most of these nanocarriers are removed through the liver and spleen before ever reaching their intended target. And many of the encapsulated drugs can be lost while the carriers circulate in the blood or degraded on the way to tumors.
In a study recently published in the journal ACS Nano, UCLA scientists report that by using engineered mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) as delivery vehicles, they were able to achieve significant increases in the percentage of drug-carrying nanoparticles that reach and are retained at tumor sites.
The MSNP platform allows for the introduction of multiple and customized design features that can help optimize the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to a variety of cancer types, said the researchers, led by Dr. Andre Nel, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and public health and chief of the nanomedicine division in the UCLA Department of Medicine, and Jeffrey Zink, a professor in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Nel and Zink are also members of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.
A key challenge in enhancing drug delivery has been improving nanocarriers' access to tumors by capitalizing on features like the leakiness of abnormal tumor blood vessels, which allows nanoparticles to slip through and be retained at tumor sites. To achieve that, particles must be designed to be the ideal size, to remain in the blood stream long enough by temporarily evading the liver and spleen, and to stably bind the drug.
The dynamic design
|Contact: Jennifer Marcus|
University of California - Los Angeles