Many existing anti-cancer drugs can be disappointingly ineffective in clinical practice, but often it is the delivery method and not the medication itself that limits effectiveness. Being able to deliver multiple drugs together, each with a different mechanism of action, to their target can be considerably more powerful than separate administrations. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a “nanoflower” made out of a hydrophilic polymer that carries camptothecin and doxorubicin directly into cancer cells.
The hydrophobic drugs are encapsulated within the polyethylene glycol structure similarly to how proteins fold in on themselves. At about 50 nanometers in diameter, the nanoflowers can be injected into the bloodstream to seek out cancer cells. In an animal study, the structures stayed together until they penetrated lung cancer cells by taking advantage of “lipid raft and clathrin-mediated endocytotic pathway without premature leakage,” according to the study abstract inBiomaterials. The researchers also tested the nanoflowers in a laboratory setting against a number of other cancers, achieving promising results that should pave the way for further pre-clinical studies.
Study in Biomaterials: