A research team from University of Oklahoma, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai, and University of Missouri have shown that gold nanoparticles can help stop the growth of pancreatic tumors in mice models.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas don’t respond well to chemo or radiation therapy, and the altered tumor microenvironment created by pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) and pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) is thought to be a big reason why this cancer is so difficult to get under control. Being able to interfere with the chemical communication between the PCCs and PSCs may go a long way toward changing the prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients.
The research team showed that gold nanoparticles, when introduced into the pancreatic tumor environment, modify the cell secretome of PCCs and PSCs. Specifically, reporting in journal ACS Nano, the investigators state that gold nanoparticles “impair secretions of major hub node proteins in both cell types and transform activated PSCs toward a lipid-rich quiescent phenotype.”
Inactivating many of the PSCs led to significantly reduced tumor growth in laboratory mice thanks to a radically changed tumor microenvironment.
While these results are quite promising, considerable further study still has to be done before these gold nanoparticles are used to fight pancreatic cancer in humans.
From the study abstract:
By utilizing a kinase dead mutant of IRE1-α, we demonstrate that AuNPs alter the cellular secretome through the ER-stress-regulated IRE1-dependent decay pathway (RIDD) and identify endostatin and matrix metalloproteinase 9 as putative RIDD targets. Thus, AuNPs could potentially be utilized as a tool to effectively interrogate bidirectional communications in the tumor microenvironment, reprogram it, and inhibit tumor growth by its therapeutic function.