A couple weeks ago we reported on scientists at University of California, San Diego wrapping polymeric nanoparticles within plasma membranes of blood platelets to cloak them from the body’s immune system. Now researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have published in journal Advanced Materials on a similar technique that uses platelet membranes to deliver anti-cancer drugs into tumors as well as to kill circulating tumor cells (CTCs).
The team harvested platelet membranes and mixed them in a gel solution containing the chemo agent doxorubicin. Compressing the solution resulted in spheres of platelet membranes with the doxorubicin-gel as the core. The researchers then coated these spheres with the cytokine TRAIL that the body normally produces to initiate cell death. They then injected the nanoparticles into laboratory mice with active cancer tumors.
Post injection, the new nanoparticles swim around the body looking for cancer cells to attach to. Once found, TRAIL attacks the cellular membrane and the rest of the particle slips inside. The acids inside the cell break apart the nanoparticle, releasing the doxorubicin to attack the nucleus of the cell from within.
The researchers showed that the newly developed nanoparticle compound was considerably more effective at killing tumors and snagging circulating tumor cells than the same particles that didn’t have the platelet membrane shell.
Study in Advanced Materials: Anticancer Platelet-Mimicking Nanovehicles