Nanoparticles Capable of Delivering Drugs Directly to Kidney Tumors

June 29, 2015

Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) have created a tiny device that can deliver cancer therapies directly to the tumor site. What's more, this technology could potentially treat chemotherapy-induced kidney failure.

Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) have created a tiny device that can deliver cancer therapies directly to the tumor site. What's more, this technology could potentially treat chemotherapy-induced kidney failure.

Scientists have been looking for ways to develop nanoparticles that can deliver medicine to tumors and reside there long enough to be effective. “Targeting tumors specifically has often proved to be challenging,” says chemist and engineer Daniel Heller, PhD, who led the study. “For cancers growing in specific sites, such as the kidneys, the next best thing may be a particle that’s capable of seeking out the right organ,” he said in a MSKCC news release.1

Details of this study may also be found in the March 2015 online issue of Nano Letters.2

This way of treating cancers is so direct, it doesn't affect other organs or healthy living tissue. Traditionally, chemotherapy has been used in a broader way that affects the cancer tumor and much more; now this very precise method may spare patients from side effects of organ damage.

Like the discovery that components of mustard gas from World War II could be useful in therapeutic cancer care settings3, this discovery also came about unexpectedly.  Dr. Heller's team was studying how the size and chemical properties of nanomaterials could be used to guide their distribution in the body, targeting lung tumors.

In animal studies, the researchers discovered that this particle accumulated mostly in a specific structure of the kidney, where it stayed until it completely degraded. This finding led the team to move their study to look more closely at the behavior of the particle, a mesoparticle, which is slightly larger than a nanoparticle, to the kidney.

The part of the kidneys, responsible for filtering waste from the body, called the proximal tube, is the areas where renal cell carcinoma originates. By enabling the therapies to go directly to the site of where cancer starts, this cuts down on the amount of other organs being affected, thus effectively lessening the side effects of drugs. Also, another plus, drugs that previously failed to treat this cancer type (chemotherapy/targeted therapies), may be retested using this new technology to see whether delivering directly to the tumor offers more efficacy than in previous, broader approaches. 

More testing and clinical trials may help determine if this surprise finding is an effective way to treat renal cell carcinoma tumors.

 

 

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