Nanoparticles 'better at preventing tumour growth'

In collaboration with the Press Association

Researchers have developed a new drug delivery method which uses nano-sized molecules to carry cancer drugs to the tumour.

A team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, led by Ning Tang, designed nanoparticle carriers - measuring around ten millionths of a millimetre - to deliver the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin deep into the tumours of mice with non-small cell lung cancer.

Doxorubicin traditionally has only limited effectiveness as a cancer treatment, as it is unable to penetrate far into tumours. It can also cause unpleasant side-effects by damaging healthy cells and organs.

However, researchers discovered that using the nanocarrier improved the effectiveness of the drug in mice. They found that the technique slowed down tumour growth, increasing survival time and reducing side-effects.

Half of mice treated with a low dose of the nanocarrier-delivered drug survived for 40 days or longer. And this increased to nine out of ten mice treated with a higher dose.

In contrast, all of the mice given the drug by the traditional method died within 30 days.

Writing in the online version of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the authors said: "Encapsulation of doxorubicin?increased its accumulation and penetration in tumours in terms of both the percentage of cells that were reached by the drug and the intracellular levels that were attained."

They also noted that the delivery method "may have the potential to improve the effectiveness of these agents while reducing side-effects".