Researchers from the University of California-San Diego, MIT, and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at the University of California-Santa Barbara have engineered two types of nanoparticles that work together to deliver a large amount of anti-cancer drug to a tumor. Cancer-targeting nanoparticles are nothing new, however, current nanoparticles are only able to deliver about 1 percent of the active drug to the site of a tumor. In a study on mice, it was demonstrated that this new, dual nanoparticle system could deliver 40 times the dose than current methods.
What makes this system unique is that it uses one of the body’s own communication pathways to allow the two types of nanoparticles to signal each other and deliver the drug to the tumor – in this case, the body’s blood coagulation cascade that is typically initiated when the body detects an injured blood vessel:
Signaling particles, which make up the first wave, exit the bloodstream and arrive at the tumor site via tiny holes in the leaky blood vessels that typically surround tumors (this is the same way that most targeted nanoparticles reach their destination). Once at the tumor, this first wave of particles provokes the body into believing that an injury has occurred at a tumor site, either by emitting heat or by binding to a protein that sets off the coagulation cascade.
Receiving particles are coated with proteins that bind to fibrin, which attracts them to the site of blood clotting. Those second-wave particles also carry a drug payload, which they release once they reach the tumor.
Article from MIT: Working in harmony…
Article from UCSD: Swarming Nanoparticles Communicate to Boost Drug Concentrations Near Tumors…
Journal article from Nature Materials: Nanoparticles that communicate in vivo to amplify tumour targeting