Chemotherapy is effective at eliminating a tumor. Still, there are often cancer stem-like cells that survive and begin forming a new tumor. This is because these cells are characteristically more resistant to chemotherapy.
Scientists at Ohio State University have now created a new nanoparticle that can specifically attack these tumor-reinitiating cells to prevent the cancer from coming back.
The polymeric nanoparticles are coated with chitosan, particularly targeting a receptor on the cancer stem-like cells. A large dose of doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy drug, is encapsulated within the nanoparticles.
To release the poisonous compound at the right place, the nanoparticles were created to break open when inside an acidic environment of the type that exists inside of tumors.
The team tested the new nanoparticles on mice with human breast tumors. The results showed that the technique rises cytotoxicity of doxorubicin by six times when killing cancer stem-like cells. The nanoparticle also removed the rest of the tumor with no noticeable side effects on the animals.