Research and the development of new cancer treatments, as a result of advances in DNA sequencing, have shown that combination drug therapy can be more effective than a single drug when treating some types of cancers. However, the effective administration of more than one drug can be challenging due to difficulties reaching the cancer cells with the appropriate amount of each drug. Developments in nanotechnology have begun to address this issue with recent research illustrating how nanoparticles are able to carry drugs and target cancer cells specifically. In new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), researchers have developed a nanoparticle capable of codelivering, or carrying two different drugs with entirely different physicochemical properties, directly to a prostate cancer cell and controlling the release of these drugs into the cell to maximize their effectiveness. This research is published online in the Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science during the week of October 4, 2010 and in an upcoming print edition.
"Many cancer treatments require the administration of two drugs, but the current method for administering these drugs depends on the individual drug's characteristics and often doesn't reach the target - the cancer cell. With the nanoparticle construct we describe in this research, we are laying the foundation for the potential to drastically improve the delivery of cancer therapies. Use of the nanoparticle has the potential to allow for the effective, controlled delivery of a variety of combination therapies directly to the cancer cell," said Nagesh Kolishetti, a researcher in the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at BWH.
In experiments performed in cell cultures, researchers achieved successful codelivery of two separate chemotherapy drugs with varying physical and chemical properties by developing a polymer to which the drugs could be attached and blending this polymer during the self assembly of the nanoparticle. The nanoparticle is able to target the membrane of a prostate cancer cell, become absorbed in the cell, and then release the drugs in a controlled fashion.
"We are excited about the potential that this finding unlocks and to explore different drug combinations that can be used for other cancers and beyond," said Omid Farohkzad, MD, director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at BWH and senior author on the paper. MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer and Stephen Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT, are also senior authors of the paper.
More research is needed to explore both the potential drug combinations and the feasibility of translating this technology to clinical therapies.