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Nanotech researchers' 2-step method shows promise in fighting pancreatic cancer
Date:11/15/2013

y Zink, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Dr. Jeffrey Brinker, a University of New Mexico professor of chemical and nuclear engineering, sought to place chemotherapy drugs into nanoparticles that could more directly target pancreatic cancer cells, but they first needed to find a way to get those nanoparticles through the sites of vascular obstruction caused by pericytes, which restrict access to the cancer cells.

Through experimentation, they discovered they could interfere with a cellular signaling pathway the communication mechanism between cells that governs the pericytes' attraction to the tumor blood vessels. By creating nanoparticles that effectively bind a high load of the signaling pathway inhibitor, the researchers were able to develop a first wave of nanoparticles that would separate the pericytes from the endothelial cells on the blood vessel. This would open the vascular gate for the next wave of nanoparticles, which carry the chemotherapeutic agent to the cancer cells inside the tumor.

To test this nanotherapy, the researchers used immuno-compromised mice in which they grew human pancreatic tumors called xenografts under the skin. With the two-wave method, the xenograft tumors had a significantly higher rate of shrinkage than tumors exposed only to chemotherapy given as a free drug or carried in nanoparticles without first-wave treatment.

"This two-wave nanotherapy is an existing example of how we seek to improve the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to their intended targets using nanotechnology to provide an engineered approach," said Nel, chief of UCLA's division of nanomedicine. "It shows how the physical and chemical principles of nanotechnology can be integrated with the biological sciences to help cancer patients by increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy while also reducing side effects and toxicity. This two-wave treatment approach can also address biological impediments in nanotherapies
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Contact: Shaun Mason
smason@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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