Science

New Lung Cancer Treatment Kills Drug-Resistant Tumors

By Hilda Scott , May 22, 2013 03:51 PM EDT
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Chemotherapy plays a major role in the treatment of lung cancer and an advance in nanomedicine shows promise of safer and more effective treatment for patients.  

A new treatment approach uses extremely small nanoparticles, cancer drugs and small interfering RNA (siRNA).  These components all work together to provide effective cancer treatment and shut down the cancer cells' ability to resist the cancer drugs. In trial tests on animals, the existence of lung tumors virtually disappeared.  

"A drug delivery system that can be inhaled is a much more efficient approach, targeting just the cancer cells as much as possible. Other chemotherapeutic approaches only tend to suppress tumors, but this system appears to eliminate it," study co-author and assistant professor in the Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, Oleh Taratula said.

The new system is based on a "nanostructured lipid nanocarrier", the treatment technology is currently being patented. Tiny particles that are smaller than a speck of dust readily attach to cancer cells delivering the anticancer drug right to the lungs. The structure of the treatment will allow for easy inhalation and also contains siRNA, which helps to weaken cancer cells.

There are two types of resistance that cancer cells use to block anticancer drug treatment. One is called "pump" resistance in which the drug treatment is pumped out of the cells, and the other is "nonpump" resistance which prevents the cell from dying. siRNA eliminates both types of resistance, leaving the cancer cell vulnerable to the drugs being used to kill it.

An inhaled form of chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer avoids the breakdown of chemotherapeutic agents, which tends to happen when the treatment is injected. The treatment is more effective since the chemo medication goes straight to the lungs and arrives in tact to do their job of killing the cancer cells.

Chemotherapy inhalation treatment for lung cancer was proven to be more effective than the conventional method. When injected, the anticancer drugs accumulate in the liver, kidney and spleen, most of the drug doesn't even make it to the lungs. The study showed that the amount of drugs that made it into the lungs was 83 percent when using the inhalation approach. With the injection approach, only 23 percent of the anticancer drug treatment made it to the lungs. More tests are needed before the chemotherapy inhalation treatment will be ready for human trials. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Controlled Release. 

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