Cambridge, MASS. -- Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have shown that they can deliver the cancer drug cisplatin much more effectively and safely in a form that has been encapsulated in a nanoparticle targeted to prostate tumor cells and is activated once it reaches its target.
Using the new particles, the researchers were able to successfully shrink tumors in mice, using only one-third the amount of conventional cisplatin needed to achieve the same effect. That could help reduce cisplatin's potentially severe side effects, which include kidney damage and nerve damage.
In 2008, the researchers showed that the nanoparticles worked in cancer cells grown in a lab dish. Now that the particles have shown promise in animals, the team hopes to move on to human tests.
"At each stage, it's possible there will be new roadblocks that will come up, but you just keep trying," says Stephen Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry and a senior author of the paper, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Jan. 10.
Omid Farokhzad, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at Brigham and Women's Hospital, is also a senior author of the paper. Shanta Dhar, a postdoctoral associate in Lippard's lab, and Nagesh Kolishetti, a postdoctoral associate in Farokhzad's lab, are co-lead authors.
Cisplatin, which doctors began using to treat cancer in the late 1970s, destroys cancer cells by cross-linking their DNA, which ultimately triggers cell death. Despite its adverse side effects, which also include nerve damage and nausea, about half of all cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are taking platinum drugs.
Another problem with conventional cisplatin is its relatively short lifetime in the bloodstream. Only about 1 percent of the dose given to a patient ever reaches the tumor cells' DNA, a
|Contact: Jessica Holmes|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology