Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital were able to successfully shrink tumors in mice with only a third of the amount of cisplatin normally needed. The new technique could help alleviate some side effects associated with cisplatin, including nerve and kidney damage.
The nanoparticles have proven effective in lab settings and animals, and now researchers hope to test the devices in humans.
Cisplatin kills cancer cells by cross-linking their DNA. The drug, which came of use in the 1970s, lives for only a short while in the bloodstream and only about one percent of dosages effectively reach their target, the tumor cells' DNA. About half of the dose is excreted an hour after treatment.
To combat these deficiencies, researchers encased a derivative of cisplatin in a water-repelling nanoparticle and coated them with molecules that bind to a protein found on most prostate cancer cells.
This approach also meant the drug didn't accumulate in the kidneys as it normally does -- and more of the drug reached their targets.
This kind of nanoparticle design could be easily adapted to administer other types of drugs, according to researchers. They could also be designed to target tumors other than those in prostate cancer -- including the Her-2 receptor found in certain breast cancers -- as long as the tumors have known receptors that could be targeted.