When it comes to anti-cancer drugs, it’s not only their effectiveness at killing the intended target that we want to know, but also their ability to reach and penetrate the cancer cells. Knowing whether the drug actually enters cancer cells can be as important as whether it’s effective once inside.
Now researchers at Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London, both in the UK, have developed a technique that lets them measure a drug’s penetration into cells in situ. This is important, as laboratory studies on small groups of cells may be misleading as to what actually ends up happening when a drug is injected systematically.
The researchers tested their technique on mice with ovarian tumors, injecting them with doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy agent. The doxorubicin molecules had chromatin attached to them, a substance that helps the chemo drug to fluoresce.
Using fluorescence endomicroscopy, the team was able to follow the doxorubicin as it spread through the mouse and to measure its concentration within healthy and cancerous cells.
It is hoped that this technology will soon be translated to humans, a serious challenge because we’re much larger than mice. If successful, this may significantly change how drugs are selected, administered, and monitored during their active phase.
Study in Nature Communications: Heterogeneity in tumor chromatin-doxorubicin binding revealed by in vivo fluorescence lifetime imaging confocal endomicroscopy…