New anti-cancer 'grenades' can target drugs at tumours

BRITISH researchers have developed a treatment for cancer-sufferers using drug-packed “grenades” armed with heat-sensitive triggers to target tumours.

[COMMENT: This would be a major step forward in the world of pediatric cancers. Let's hope that it proves successful and can be brought forward to our kids. (ARE)]

By SUZIE NEUWIRTH | PUBLISHED: 18:12, Fri, Oct 30, 2015 | UPDATED: 18:25, Fri, Oct 30, 2015 | Experss (UK) | See Original Here

The results mean that a lower dosage of cancer-fighting drugs could be used to the same effect, sparing side-effect damage to healthy tissue.

Liposomes, small, bubble-like structures built out of cell membrane that function as packages to deliver molecules, have been used to carry drugs into cancer cells since 1995.

But the challenge has been to target the liposomes and the drugs inside them directly at tumours.

Now a team based at the University of the Manchester has fitted liposomes with a heat-activated trigger so that they release the drugs only when they reach the right cancer cells, which have been previously warmed up.

Kostas Kostarelos, study author and professor of nanomedicine at the University of Manchester, said: “Without heat activation, the liposomes do not release all of the drug at the required point, so the doctor has to administer far higher doses of the drug than actually benefits the patient.

“By using heat activation, these nano-particles will break open and release all of the drug where it is needed, making them far more effective with a lower dose.”

The treatment works best on solid tumours growing in organ tissue rather than cancerous growths in the bloodstream such as leukaemia, he said.

Breast, prostate and ovarian cancer would be likely starting points for use of the new treatment if it came to fruition.

“The challenge is that you destabilise liposomes by making them heat-sensitive,” said Professor Kostarelos.

“The liposomes are injected into the body at 37 degrees and are meant to start leaking at 42 degrees. You need the liposome to start leaking the drug at exactly the right temperature.”

The team’s studies are due to be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference next week in Liverpool.

Now that the research has been completed, Professor Kostarelos is hoping that a pharmaceuticals company will launch a clinical trial soon.

Bringing a product to market could take up to a decade, however.

The research involved collaboration between pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester.

Dr Paul Stott, vice president of product development at AstraZeneca, said: “Tumour targeting could make our drugs more effective and possibly reduce side effects for patients leading us towards a new generation of cancer therapies.”