Oral anticancer therapy through nanotechnology?

An international team of investigators has demonstrated in mice a nanotech method of orally delivering an anticancer therapy that would normally have to be delivered by injection. From the National Cancer Institute’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer “Polymer Nanoparticle for Oral Anticancer Drug Delivery

One of the problems that cancer patients face is that many of the most potent anticancer therapies can be administered only by injection, which means that cancer patients must travel to receive their medication. But thanks to a new type of nanoparticle developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, future cancer patients may be able to receive their medication in pill form.

Anirban Maitra, M.D., and colleagues developed the new polymeric nanoparticle from three different starting materials that they then linked together in various proportions. The investigators found that nanoparticles made of six parts N-isopropylacrylamide, two parts methylmethacrylate, and two parts acrylic acid had suitable pharmacological properties. Indeed, nanoparticles of this composition readily incorporated water-insoluble drugs and were capable of delivering those drugs into the bloodstream after oral administration.

In a paper published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics [abstract], the researchers noted that they chose the three starting materials because they expected that the resulting polymers would stick to the mucosal layer in the gastrointestinal tract. This adhesive property gives cells in the gastrointestinal tract cells the opportunity to engulf the nanoparticles and ferry them into the bloodstream.

Upon oral administration these <100-nm nanoparticles inhibited the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells implanted in mice.

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