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Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment With A Single Nanoparticle; The Nanoparticle Can Also Inhibit Cancer Drug Resistance Development

First Posted: May 04, 2017 05:27 AM EDT
Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment With A Single Nanoparticle
Scientists from China developed a nanoscale tool box that aids in cancer diagnosis and treatment at the same time.
(Photo : National Cancer Institute/YouTube screenshot)

Cancer is a highly complicated chronic disease that has multifactorial etiology. The complexity of disease manifestation is equally reflected in its adept modes of treatment. One of the main challenges of successful cancer diagnosis and treatment is the development of diagnostic and therapeutic agents that possess the ability to distinguish between cancerous and healthy cells. This is essential to ensure that the drug is specified to kill only cancer cells without eliciting any cytotoxic or genotoxic response in the healthy ones.

Though nanotechnology is considered as the most viable option for the development of such cancer drug delivery vehicles, not many of the proposed models are deemed fit for real-time clinical applications.

In a recent revelation, a group or researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China developed a novel theranostic nanoparticle that facilitates cancer diagnosis and treatment. The basic design of the nanoparticle encompasses of an anti-cancer core loaded with chemotherapeutic agents mixed with photosensitizers that remain enveloped in a silica jacket embedded with molecular signal jammers.

According to Medical Physics Web, the nanoparticles developed by Yiyao Liu and his team can specifically target cancerous cells by virtue of their pH-sensitive silica envelope. These envelopes are specially designed to disintegrate as soon as they encounter the acidic microenvironment of cancer cells and deliver the drug as well as the photoactive agent.

The cancer cell-specific delivery of photoactive agent facilitates the easy detection of the cancer via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and helps in disrupting the cellular integrity of the cancer cells. The research findings published in the Biomaterials Science journal indicated that the researchers conducted a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments in living mice models. They used the multi-layered nanoparticle to track the delivery of doxorubicin, a common anti-cancer drug.

Furthermore, they modified the surface properties of the nanoparticle by embedding it with specific RNA molecules that inhibit the expression of p-glycoprotein, a cellular pump that functions to remove doxorubicin from the intracellular environment and, hence, help in the development of cancer drug resistance. The multitasking property of the nanoparticle in expediting the process of cancer diagnosis and treatment makes it highly desirable for clinical applications. 

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