A simpler way to treat cancer

June 2, 2014 by Angela Herring, Northeastern University
Professor Vladimir Torchilin’s groundbreaking work in nanomedicine recently earned him the 2013 Blaise Pascal Medal for Biomedical Science from the European Academy of Science. Credit: Brooks Canaday.

(Medical Xpress)—Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. This is the philosophy that Northeastern professor Vladimir Torchilin and his team took in new research carried out in collaboration with physics professor Dmitri Lapotko from Rice University and presented in a paper published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.

"It's an absolutely new concept for treating cancer," said Torchilin, a Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the School of Pharmacy's Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine. "There are several factors combined in a very simple way, which results in a synergistic effect against the tumor."

Together with the physicists at Rice, Torchilin's team created a approach that combines chemical and physical modalities to more efficiently destroy a tumor while leaving nearby healthy intact.

"You start with two very well known and simple things," Torchilin said. "Nanomedicines and nanoparticles." Both allow clinicians to steer materials to specific cells in the body using recognition factors that are disproportionately expressed on . In the case of drug-loaded tumor-targeted nanomedicines, cancer cells welcome much higher concentrations of . In the case of nanoparticles, it's tiny tumor-targeted crumbs of gold that end up inside the .

Both methods are commonly used, but this is the first time they have been combined in a single therapeutic approach, explained Torchilin, who received the 2013 Blaise Pascal Medal for Biomedical Science from the European Academy of Science for his outstanding contribution to science and technology and the promotion of excellence in research and education.

"So now you have normal cells with very few drug particles and gold particles, and cancer cells with a lot of those," he said. "When those particles come into the cell—just because of the way cells deal with foreign particles—they form clusters." In cancer cells, these clusters will be large while in normal cells they will be small.

Next, the cells are irradiated with a laser beam, which interacts with such clusters and provokes a kind of a mini-explosion inside the cancer cell. Not only does this disrupt the physical structure of the cell from the inside out, it also breaks the nanomedicine delivery system containing the drug molecules, causing a simultaneous and massive drug release, Torchilin said.

"In normal cells with small clusters, the explosion won't happen or it will be very small so you cannot damage ," he said. "But in a cancer cell you have a large cluster, so the bubble will be big, which can damage the cell. But, simultaneously, like any strong strike, it will release the drug."

Each part of the treatment is necessary and works in concert with the others to create concurrent chemical and physical attacks on the cancer cell, while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed. "You use the standard things," Torchilin said. "You just use them all together. Simple."

Explore further: Delivering drugs on time and on target

More information: "On-demand intracellular amplification of chemoradiation with cancer-specific plasmonic nanobubbles." Ekaterina Y Lukianova-Hleb, et al. Nature Medicine (2014) DOI: 10.1038/nm.3484. Received 14 February 2013 Accepted 24 October 2013 Published online 01 June 2014

Related Stories

Delivering drugs on time and on target

February 4, 2010
(PhysOrg.com) -- Northeastern professor leading research on nanocarriers that would make a whole new class of drugs available to treat cancer and other diseases

A fast and effective mechanism to combat an aggressive cancer

February 24, 2014
Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths of American women than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. According to the American Cancer Society, one in 72 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, ...

'Quadrapeutics' works in preclinical study of hard-to-treat tumors

June 1, 2014
The first preclinical study of a new Rice University-developed anti-cancer technology found that a novel combination of existing clinical treatments can instantaneously detect and kill only cancer cells—often by blowing ...

New technology using florescent proteins tracks cancer cells circulating in the blood

May 8, 2014
After cancer spreads, finding and destroying malignant cells that circulate in the body is usually critical to patient survival. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Chemistry & Biology have developed a new ...

Signals found that recruit host animals' cells, enabling breast cancer metastasis

May 22, 2014
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have identified chemical signals that certain breast cancers use to recruit two types of normal cells needed for the cancers' spread. A description of the findings ...

New study shows promise for preventing therapy resistance in tumor cells

January 9, 2014
A new study led by University of Kentucky researchers suggests that activating the tumor suppressor p53 in normal cells causes them to secrete Par-4, another potent tumor suppressor protein that induces cell death in cancer ...

Recommended for you

Daily low-dose aspirin may be weapon against ovarian cancer

July 20, 2018
(HealthDay)— One low-dose aspirin a day could help women avoid ovarian cancer or boost their survival should it develop, two new studies suggest.

Discovery of kidney cancer driver could lead to new treatment strategy

July 19, 2018
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists have uncovered a potential therapeutic target for kidney cancers that have a common genetic change. Scientists have known this genetic change ...

High fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive tumors

July 19, 2018
Women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to a new study led by researchers ...

Sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent in young people

July 19, 2018
A world-first study led by University of Sydney has found that Australians aged 18-40 years who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, compared to those who rarely ...

Analysis of prostate tumors reveals clues to cancer's aggressiveness

July 19, 2018
Using genetic sequencing, scientists have revealed the complete DNA makeup of more than 100 aggressive prostate tumors, pinpointing important genetic errors these deadly tumors have in common. The study lays the foundation ...

Complementary medicine for cancer can decrease survival

July 19, 2018
People who received complementary therapy for curable cancers were more likely to refuse at least one component of their conventional cancer treatment, and were more likely to die as a result, according to researchers from ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bearly
not rated yet Jun 03, 2014
Sadly like every other miracle treatment that has been developed to fight cancer most sick people will never benefit from this. I wonder why things like this never get to the people.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.