MANHATTAN, KAN. -- A Kansas State University professor is trying to create a patient-friendly treatment to help the more than 220,000 people who are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.
Masaaki Tamura, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, and his research team are working on several projects that use nanoparticles to treat and directly target the "bull's-eye": cancer cells.
It's estimated that nearly 156,940 people will die from lung-related cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancer-related deaths are higher than the next three common cancer-related deaths combined: colon, breast and pancreatic cancers.
Given lung cancer's high mortality rate, Tamura has focused his research on peptide nanoparticle-based gene therapy, which is the process of treating diseases by introducing therapeutic genes. His research team is collaborating with University of Kansas researchers to develop a way to treat cancer other than current chemotherapy practices.
"We want to generate a safe patient-friendly therapy," Tamura said.
Cancer develops from our own bodies, Tamura said, which makes it very difficult for traditional chemotherapy to distinguish cancer cells from healthy cells. As a result, chemotherapy often kills both cancer cells and healthy cells, which is why patients often experience whole body reactions to treatment, such as hair loss, diarrhea and vomiting. If the chemotherapy treatment damages intestines, it often has fatal consequences for patients.
Tamura has found the potential for safer therapy in cationic peptide nanoparticles. This small peptide helps transfer an important gene called angiotensin II type 2 receptor, which helps to maintain cardiovascular tissue. By attaching this receptor gene to peptide nanoparticles, Tamura hopes to create a form of treatment that can directly target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
"The peptide itself is a very safe material and it has no harmful ef
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Kansas State University