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Tiny gems take big step toward battling cancer
Date:3/9/2011

Chemotherapy drug resistance contributes to treatment failure in more than 90 percent of metastatic cancers. Overcoming this hurdle would significantly improve cancer survival rates.

Dean Ho, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, believes a tiny carbon particle called a nanodiamond may offer an effective drug delivery solution for hard-to-treat cancers.

In studies of liver and breast cancer models in vivo, Ho and a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians found that a normally lethal amount of a chemotherapy drug when bound to nanodiamonds significantly reduced the size of tumors in mice. Survival rates also increased and no toxic effects on tissues and organs were observed.

This is the first work to demonstrate the significance and translational potential of nanodiamonds in the treatment of chemotherapy-resistant cancers. The results will be published March 9 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"Our results show the nanodiamond's enormous translational potential towards significantly improving the efficacy of drug-resistant cancer treatment and simultaneously improving safety," said Ho, who led the research and is corresponding author of the paper. "These are critical benefits. We chose to study these chemo-resistant cancers because they remain one of the biggest barriers to treating cancer and improving patient survival."

Ho is with Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Nanodiamonds are carbon-based materials approximately 2 to 8 nanometers in diameter. Each nanodiamond's surface possesses functional groups that allow a wide spectrum of compounds to be attached to it, including chemotherapy agents.

The researchers took these nanodiamonds and reversibly bound the common
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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