A nano-scale drug delivery method that has been found to effectively eliminate cancer tumours after a single treatment has been developed by a research team led by Indian-origin scientist.
The Duke University study conducted over animal models revealed that after delivering the drug to the tumour, the delivery vehicle breaks down into harmless byproducts, markedly decreasing the toxicity for the recipient.
"When used to deliver anti-cancer medications in our models, the new formulation has a four-fold higher maximum tolerated dose than the same drug by itself, and it induced nearly complete tumor regression after one injection," Nature quoted Ashutosh Chilkoti, Theo Pilkington Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering as saying.
"The free drug had only a modest effect in shrinking tumours or in prolonging animal survival," he added.
The researchers revealed that the delivery system makes use of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which has been genetically altered to produce a specific artificial polypeptide known as a chimeric polypeptide.
When attached to one of these chimeric polypeptides, the drug takes on characteristics that the drug alone does not possess. Most drugs do not dissolve in water, which limits their ability to be taken in by cells. But being attached to a nanoparticle makes the drug soluble.
During the study, researchers used doxorubicin, a commonly used agent for the treatment of cancers of the blood, breast, ovaries nd other organs
They injected mice with tumours implanted under their skin with either the chimeric polypeptide-doxorubicin combination or doxorubicin alone.
The study showed that mice treated with doxorubicin alone had an average tumour size 25 times greater than those treated with the new combination.
The average survival time for the doxorubicin-treated mice was 27 days, compared to more than 66 days for mice getting the new formulation.
The study appears in journal Nature Materials.