CHICAGO --- A new gentler chemotherapy drug in the form of nanoparticles has been designed by Northwestern Medicine scientists to be less toxic to a young woman's fertility but extra tough on cancer. This is the first cancer drug tested while in development for its effect on fertility using a novel in vitro test.
The scientists designed a quick new in vitro test that predicts the toxicity of a chemotherapy drug to fertility and can be easily used to test other cancer drugs in development as well as existing ones. Currently the testing of cancer drugs for fertility toxicity is a time and resource intensive process.
"Our overall goal is to create smart drugs that kill the cancer but don't cause sterility in young women," said Teresa Woodruff, a co-principal investigator of the study and chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The paper was published March 20 in in the journal PLOS ONE.
The scientists hope their integration of drug development and reproductive toxicity testing is the beginning of a new era in which chemotherapy drugs are developed with an eye on their fertotoxity (fertility toxicity). As cancer survival rates increase, the effect of cancer treatments on fertility is critically important to many young patients.
Woodruff and Thomas O'Halloran, also a co-principal investigator and director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern, are a wife and husband team who developed and tested the drug. Their intersecting interests -- hers in fertility preservation, his in cancer drug development -- percolated over dinner conversations and sparked the collaboration.
O'Halloran also is the associate director for basic sciences research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and Woodruff is the Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg. Richard Ahn, now a fou
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