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Tiny Nanoparticles Stop Metastasis in Mice

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego targeted tumor blood vessels with chemotherapy carried by microscopic-sized nanoparticles. Although primary tumors were not affected, blood vessels were destroyed, keeping the tumors from spreading throughout the bodies of experimental mice.

The technique allows much lower doses of chemotherapy to be effective, eliminating toxic side effects and avoiding healthy tissue.

Mice with kidney and pancreatic cancers were treated with doxorubicin delivered by nanoparticles.  The particles honed in on cells that expressed a particular protein marker that is associated with blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors.

David Cheresh, Ph.D, Director of Translational Research at UCSD, said,

We were able to establish the desired anti-cancer effect while delivering the drug at levels 15 times below what is needed when the drug is used systemically. Even more interesting is that the metastatic lesions were more sensitive to this therapy than the primary tumor.

He continued,

Doxorubicin is known to be an effective anti-cancer drug, but has been difficult to give patients an adequate dose without negative side effects. This new strategy represents the first time we’ve seen such an impact on metastatic growth, and it was accomplished without the collateral damage of weight loss or other outward signs of toxicity in the patient.

SOURCE:  University of California San Diego News Release, July 7, 2008.

Eric A. Murphy et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 105, Number 27, July 8, 2008.

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