Nanoparticles (also referred to as nanoshells) developed by researchers from Rice University in Texas will be used for the management of secondary brain metastasis of breast cancer by Indiana University researchers. Meanwhile, Nanospectra Biosciences, based in Houston, Texas is currently hosting Phase 1 clinical trials involving the research for the management of head and neck tumors, lung cancer and advanced prostate cancer.
Utilizing a $573,000 Department of Defense grant, associate professor of surgery at the IU School of Medicine, Susan E. Clare, M.D. Ph D is currently working at exploring the treatment of brain metastasis secondary to breast cancer. Using the ancient concepts from Greek Mythology, Claire is working with her research team to identify a cell from human immune system that can be utilized for the transporation of chemotherapy drugs to the site of metastasis.
The report published by Claire and her associates in the scientific journal Cancer Nanotechnology provided the statistical evidence that immune cells carrying nanoparticles can cross the blood brain barrier and have the capability to populate the brain tissue to exert anti- cancer activities on the brains of mouse.
HER2 positive and triple negative are the most common breast cancers that metastasize to the brain and increase morbidity and mortality in patients. Currently, lapatinib is used for the management of HER2 positive cancers but no therapy has been devised for the management of metastasis due to triple negative breast cancer. Dr. Claire used macrophages for the transportation of nanoparticles to metastatic tissue by chemotaxis (following chemo attractants released by cancer cells).
Dr. Claire commented:
“The problem for almost all drugs, and HER2-targeted drugs are no exception, is that the blood-brain barrier is a significant impediment to delivering therapies in concentrations that can be effective.”
She discussed the proposed mechanism as follows:
“The drug is released from the particle by shining a laser on the particle,” she said. “The drug is transported between two pieces of DNA that are negatively charged. When exposed to the laser light, the electrons shift from the nanoparticle to the DNA, allowing it to release the drug.”
The research by Dr. Claire is directed towards:
– Attachment of chemotherapeutic drug to the immune cells and release of the active molecules at the site of metastasis.
– Releasing the drug only at the site of metastasis and nowhere else.
To accomplish these goals, the team has developed a nanoparticle (made up of silica) and covered with gold that allow release of nanoparticle when the outer layer absorbs laser light. Further experimental studies are in progress and new developments are expected in coming years.