Harnessing Nature’s Design To Reduce Chemo Side-Effects

Using a naturally occurring protein, scientists have designed a drug nanocarrier that can deliver high doses of cancer drugs to tumors.

AsianScientist (Oct. 29, 2014) – Using a naturally-occurring protein, researchers have designed a nanocarrier that can deliver a high concentration of drugs specifically to tumors. These results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help reduce the side effect of chemotherapy drugs.

In recent years, nanotechnology has been applied to develop drug nanocarriers that can precisely target and kill tumor cells, reducing damages to normal tissue. An ideal nanocarrier for drug delivery should be able to carry high doses of therapeutic drugs, target at tumor cells specifically and have favorable physicochemical properties and biocompatibility.

However, integrating all these characteristics into a single carrier has been complicated. So far, no targeted nanoparticle system has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, reflecting in part the complexity of designing particles that meet all of the criteria required for accurate drug delivery.

Professor Yan Xiyun and her colleagues at the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences have recently discovered a nanocarrier ideal for efficient anti-tumor drug delivery. They used a naturally-occurring protein, H-ferritin, to form a nanocage that does not require any surface functionalization or property modulation. The new nanocarrier specifically delivers high doses of the therapeutic drug doxorubicin to tumor cells and completely inhibits tumor growth with only a single dose treatment, while exhibiting excellent safety profiles and biocompatibility.

The idea of employing naturally existed materials for targeted drug delivery, instead of focusing on complex particle engineering is a shift in the design concept of drug carriers. The authors hope that it will lead to new directions and methodologies in developing new safe and biocompatible nanomaterials in vivo.

The article can be found at: Liang et al. (2014) H-ferritin–nanocaged Doxorubicin Nanoparticles Specifically Target and Kill Tumors with a Single-dose Injection.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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