Researchers at the University of Illinois are working on preventing the metastasis of cancer by using nanoparticles laden with drugs to deactivate cancer stem cells. Cancers often spread via cancer stem cells that can reappear and grow new tumors long after a patient has been in remission. The Illini researchers managed to target these cells by having their nanoparticles attach to the protein CD44, one found only on the surface of cancer stem cells. To deactivate the activity of these cells, the drug niclosamide, typically used to treat tapeworms, was attached to the nanoparticles. It actually works against cancer stem cells because it prevents the activity of a gene pathways that give these cells stem-like properties, a fact discovered by the Illinois researchers in the past.
The therapy was tested on cultures of breast cancer cells, as well as on laboratory mice with breast cancer tumors. The findings showed that the cancer stem cells were mostly deactivated, preventing them from spreading the disease throughout the rest of the body. Additionally, the general cancer cell count went down in the cultured cells and the model mice.
There’s a great deal of promise for this technology to be applicable to real-world cancer patients, so we’re hoping that this will soon lead to trials outside the laboratory.
Study in journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics: Targeted Delivery of STAT-3 Modulator to Breast Cancer Stem Like Cells Down-regulates a Series of Stem-ness Genes…