The ability of cancer cells to develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, known as multidrug resistance, remains a major cause of tumor recurrence and cancer metastasis.
Researchers in the U.S. have made a major breakthrough in the fight against multiresistant cells with a technique using nanoparticles to administer drugs to cancer cells. The technique involves using specially designed nanoparticles alongside near infrared laser treatment to make cancer cells lose their multidrug resistance for several days.
This creates a therapeutic window during which chemotherapy can be administered, potentially in lower doses, inhibiting the growth of multidrug-resistant tumors after surgery or earlier treatment with reduced drug toxicity to healthy organs.
The technique essentially reduces the amount of energy available to efflux pumps within cancer cells. These efflux pumps protect the cells by expelling unwanted toxic substances (antibiotics, heavy metals, drugs). As well as removing toxins from the cells, the efflux pumps also remove almost all clinically relevant chemotherapy drugs, the scientists explain.
“For years, researchers have focused on delivering more chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells using nanoparticles, without targeting the root of drug resistance,” explains University of Maryland Fischell Department of Bioengineering Professor Xiaoming “Shawn.”
“This meant that the cancer cells maintained their ability to expel the chemotherapy drugs, which limited any enhancement of the cancer therapy. To address this challenge, our research group is using nanoparticles not only to deliver more chemotherapy drugs to the target site within cancer cells, but also to compromise the function of the efflux pumps and thereby significantly improve safety and efficacy of cancer therapy,” concludes the specialist.
The research team, whose findings are published in the journal Nature Communications, also included scientists from Ohio State University, University of Virginia, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Indiana University School of Medicine. JB
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