AsianScientist (Jul. 19, 2019) – A research group in China has invented imprinted nanoparticles that can be used to target aggressive breast cancer. They published their work in Angewandte Chemie.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and one of the leading causes of death. About 20-30 percent of breast cancer cases belong to the very poorly treatable HER2-positive variety. HER2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, a protein that recognizes and binds to a specific growth factor to trigger cell division, metastasis and the formation of blood vessels that supply the tumor with nutrients and oxygen.
Existing therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer include using antibodies that bind HER2 to prevent the activation of downstream cellular processes. In this study, researchers led by Professor Liu Zhen at Nanjing University, China, have devised an alternative approach to target HER2-positive cancers using molecularly imprinted biocompatible polymer nanoparticles that recognize HER2 just as specifically as an antibody.
The researchers endowed their nanoparticles with specificity by carrying out a polymerization reaction in the presence of HER2—the biomolecules act as a kind of stamp, leaving nanoscopic ‘imprints’ in the spheres. In contrast to antibodies, the nanospheres are easy and inexpensive to produce and are chemically stable.
The researchers demonstrated that their imprinted nanoparticles could specifically recognize HER2 and selectively bind to it, inhibiting the dimerization of the receptors. They also showed that the nanoparticles significantly reduced the proliferation of tumor cells in vitro and inhibited the growth of tumors in mice. In contrast, healthy cells were essentially unaffected by the nanoparticle treatment.
Source: Nanjing University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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