A team of researchers from the University College London has demonstrated how small magnetic nanoparticles can be used to improve cancer treatment. Those nanoparticles can transport chemo drugs to cancer cells while also generating a minimal heating effect once stimulated through the use of an alternating external magnetic field.
The combination of chemotherapy and particle-mediated heat treatment brings about synergistic effects in the elimination of cancer cells. This proposes that the technology may be a useful tool in the fight against cancer.
The nanoparticles are made from iron oxide, which make them magnetic. These particles can be stimulated to generate a mild heating effect by using an alternating magnetic field. This mild rise in heat warms nearby cells to nearly 42º Celsius. While cancer cells die when exposed to this heat, healthy cells in an individual’s body can withstand the rise in temperature. The method is minimally invasive as the magnetic field can be directed at the site of the tumor and applied outside the individual’s body.
As mentioned above, the particles can deliver chemotherapy drugs to a tumor in an individual’s body, which helps restrict the tumor’s exposure to healthy tissues in other parts of the body. The particles have a polymer coating, which prevents them from releasing their drug until they have been absorbed in the lysosomes found in the cancer cells. The lysosomes’ acidity causes the particles’ polymer coating to disintegrate, thus allowing it to release the drug and bringing about the elimination of cancer cells. It should be noted that the coating also releases the drug when there is a rise in heat.
Thus far, researchers have tested the nanoparticles with various types of cancer cells that have been grown in the lab. The researchers discovered that delivering chemotherapy drugs, in particular doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy drug, while applying heat simultaneously resulted in synergistic effectiveness.
Nguyen TK Thanh, a researcher participating in the study, explained that the study demonstrated the huge potential of combining heat treatment delivered through magnetic nanoparticles with chemotherapy treatments. She noted that while this combination of therapy had already been approved for the treatment for rapidly growing glioblastomas, the recent study findings propose that the treatment has the potential to be used more extensively as a therapy that fights against cancer.
She added that the therapy could also be used to decrease the side effects of chemotherapy on an individual by making sure it targeted cancer cells rather than healthy tissue in an individual’s body. However, more pre-clinical tests need to be conducted to explore this option.
Many other exciting developments are coming to light within the biomedical sector. For instance, TumorGenesis, a subsidiary of Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI), is working on a novel way to grow tumors within a lab without using mice or rats in the process. This technique will ease the task of studying the biomarkers of various cancers.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Predictive Oncology (NASDAQ: POAI) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/POAI
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