In what could revolutionise the cancer treatment, scientists have developed a new nano-vehicle which they claim will deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into cancerous cells without affecting healthy cells.
The nano-vehicle made from organic materials has been developed by scientists at the Tel Aviv University (TAU) who said this technique will reduce side effects and increase the efficiency of chemotherapeutic treatment — the most effective cancer treatment at present.
Currently, patients undergoing chemotherapy develop a number of debilitating side effects such as nausea, liver toxicity and a battered immune system.
“The vehicle is very similar to a cluster bomb,” said Dr Dan Peer, of TAU’s Department of Cell Research and Immunology, who developed the nanomedical device along with Prof Rimona Margalit of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Inside the nano-vehicle, the scientists said, there are tiny particles of chemotherapy drugs. When the delivery vehicle comes into contact with cancer cells, it releases the chemotherapeutic payload directly into the cell.
The nano-vehicle reacts only to cancer cells, leaving healthy cells in the area untouched and unaffected. This reduces the chances of side effects, said the scientists, who reported their technological breakthrough in the journal Biomaterials.
According to Dr Peer, the nanomedical device can be used to treat many different types of cancer, including lung, blood, colon, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and even several types of brain cancers.
The key to the drug delivery platform is the molecule used to create the outer coating of this cluster nano-vehicle, a sugar recognized by receptors on many types of cancer cells.
“When the nano-vehicle interacts with the receptor on the cancerous cell, the receptor undergoes a structural change and the chemotherapy payload is released directly into the cancer cell, which leads to more focused chemotherapeutic treatment against the diseased cells,” said Dr Peer.
The nano-vehicle itself, the scientists said, is made from organic materials which fully decompose in the body once it has performed its function, making the treatment safer than current therapies.
This drug will be an improvement on anything currently on the market, Dr Peer said, adding that delivering chemotherapeutics directly into cancerous cells themselves is not only more potent, but also much safer.
The researchers are hoping clinical trials of the nano-device to begin in two less than years.