Not sure when November became Movember but in keeping with the theme researchers at the University of Alberta have just published their work on developing ‘homing beacon drugs’ that eliminate cancerous cells only while leaving healthy cells to go about their work. From the Nov. 20, 2012 University of Alberta news release by Raquel Maurier (Note: I have removed some links),
A medical researcher with the University of Alberta and his team just published their findings about their work on developing “homing beacon drugs” that kill only cancer cells, not healthy ones, thanks to nanotechnology.
John Lewis, the Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, published his findings in the peer-reviewed journal, Nano Letters. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the U of A, the director of the Translational Prostate Cancer Research Group and a fellow of the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
Lewis noted chemotherapy goes through the body and kills any cells that are dividing, even healthy ones—which is why cancer patients have immune-system problems, hair loss, nausea and skin problems.
“We are developing smart drugs that determine which are the cancer cells and which aren’t, then selectively kill only the cancer cells. The drugs look for a protein that is only found in cancer cells, not normal cells. This system acts like a homing beacon for tumours.”
These drugs, tested to date in only animal lab models, could be used within a week of cancer diagnoses, predicts Lewis. The drugs would target cancerous cells throughout the body, attacking sneaky cancer cells that have already escaped and grown outside the site of the main tumour.
Lewis isn’t sure when these homing beacon drugs could be available for physicians to use with patients, but hopes his works paves the way for patient-centred therapies.
Catherine Griwkowsky posted a Nov. 20, 2012 article and video about the research on the Edmonton Sun website which features an interview with the lead researcher, Choi-Fong Cho,
Fong Cho, lead researcher on the study published in the peer-reviewed Nano Letters, said the nanoparticles can be used both for imaging and for drug delivery.
“For my purpose, you put in something that binds to your cancer directly to a particle that leads to your cancer and the nanoparticle will light up the cancer,” she said.
“You could also, for example, put drugs on it and deliver the drugs specifically to the tumour without harming the surrounding cells and tissues that causes a lot of side effects.”
The lab is also looking at ways of identifying and stopping metastasis …
In keeping with the Movember theme, here’s John Lewis,
Here’s a citation for Cho’s and Lewis’ article,
Discovery of Novel Integrin Ligands from Combinatorial Libraries Using a Multiplex “Beads on a Bead” Approach by Choi-Fong Cho, Giulio A. Amadei, Daniel Breadner, Leonard G. Luyt, and John D. Lewis in Nano Lett., 2012, 12 (11), pp 5957–5965 DOI: 10.1021/nl3034043 Publication Date (Web): October 25, 2012 Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society
This article is behind a paywall.