While chemotherapy may be highly effective at eliminating a tumor, there are often cancer stem-like cells that survive and begin forming a new tumor. That’s because these cells are typically more resistant to chemo. Researchers at Ohio State University have now developed a new nanoparticle designed to specifically attack these tumor reinitiating cells to prevent the cancer from coming back.
The polymeric nanoparticles are coated with chitosan, specifically targeting a receptor on the cancer stem-like cells. A large dose of doxorubicin, a common chemo drug, is encapsulated within the nanoparticles. In order to release the poisonous compound at the right place, the nanoparticles were designed to break open when inside an acidic environment of the type that exists inside of tumors.
The team tested the new nanoparticles on mice with human breast tumors, showing that the technique increases the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin by six times when killing cancer stem-like cells, while shrinking the rest of the tumor with no noticeable side effects on the animals.
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