Researchers have engineered gold nanoparticles to target blood vessels in tumours and make them leaky so that chemotherapy drugs can get in and do their work more easily. Tumours have their own blood supply and it is already known that these blood vessels behave differently from those in normal tissue.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore had already found that some kinds of nanoparticles could make endothelium (like the lining of blood vessels) leakier. They used this knowledge to engineer gold nanoparticles that could make tumour blood vessels leaky, potentially allowing anti-cancer medicines better access to tumour tissue. To test this idea, mice implanted with breast cancer tumours and injected with the nanoparticles were given intravenous liposomal doxorubicin (chemotherapy). The tumours in these mice stopped growing; tumour growth slowed in mice given only the chemo and in the control mice given no treatment, tumours kept on growing.
This proof-of-concept study paves the way for a completely new approach to cancer treatment – using nanoparticles to improve the delivery and efficacy of anti-cancer drugs. Read more here.