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Nanoparticles Used by Researchers to Attack Brain Tumours

Treating brain tumors is traditionally difficult because of the blood-brain barrier, which prevents harmful substances from traveling //through the bloodstream into the brain. In order for chemotherapy to treat a tumor, it must penetrate this barrier.

'Thinking outside the box is a must for developing brain cancer treatments. Drugs don't get into the brain when delivered in the normal way, which explains in part why some current treatments for brain tumors are generally not effective. Targeting the tumor vasculature with nanoparticles containing a payload will overcome these issues,' says study author Alnawaz Rehemtulla, Ph.D., professor of radiology and radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School and professor of environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health.

Researchers tested the nanoparticles in cell cultures and animal models. The studies showed that nanoparticles traveled to the tumor, resulting in less Photofrin exposure throughout the body and enhanced exposure within the tumor. This allowed a larger window for activating the drug with light. It would also eliminate a common side effect of photodynamic therapy, in which healthy skin becomes sensitive to light.

In rat studies, researchers found those treated traditionally with Photofrin survived 13 days, while rats treated with Photofrin incorporated into a nanoparticle survived an average of 33 days. Forty percent of the rats remained disease-free six months after treatment.

The researchers also found twice the amount of the contrast agent at the tumor site when using targeted nanoparticles, suggesting the nanoparticles were attracted to the tumor site.

The advantage of this delivery system is the ability to attack the tumor with higher doses of a drug while sparing normal tissue from a drug's toxic side effects.

'Our research suggests that you can take a drug that may be toxic to normal tissue – it could be any type of d
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