Nanomaterial “Sniper” Targets Cancer Stem Cells

A nanomaterial that effectively targets cancer stem cells without harming non-cancerous cells shows significant therapeutic potential.

AsianScientist (Apr. 2, 2015) – While much research has focused on using nanomaterials as drug delivery agents, a new study suggests that they can be directly used as therapeutic agents. The work, published in Nature Communications, describes a nanomaterial that is non-toxic to normal cells but effectively kills cancer stem cells.

Traditional cancer therapies focus on inhibiting bulk cancer cells. Recent oncobiology studies, however, reveal that only a small subpopulation of cancer cells—termed cancer stem cells—are responsible for the bane of cancer recurrence, metastasis, chemotherapeutic and radiotherapeutic resistance.

Professor Zhao Yuliang and his team of researchers from the Key Laboratory for Biomedical Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP), the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology of China, and the University of Science and Technology of China have found that metallofullerenol nanomaterial [email protected]82(OH)22 possesses highly effective intrinsic inhibitory activity against triple-negative breast cancer stem cells.

They showed that [email protected]82(OH)22 blocks epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), thereby preventing tumor initiation and metastasis. Moreover, [email protected]82(OH)22 can be engineered to directly target and “snipe” at cancer stem cells, a process facilitated by the hypoxic conditions of the tumor microenvironment.

So far, the significant cytotoxicity of the existing cancer stem cell inhibitors limits their clinical use. In contrast, [email protected]82(OH)22 was found to be essentially non-toxic, both in vitro and in vivo.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2015) ​Gd-metallofullerenol Nanomaterial as Non-Toxic Breast Cancer Stem Cell-Specific Inhibitor.

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Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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