New York: Researchers have developed a new nano-drug candidate that kills triple-negative breast cancer cells, which is one of the most aggressive and fatal types of breast cancer.
The study, published in the journal Advanced Therapeutics, will help clinicians target breast cancer cells directly while avoiding the adverse, toxic side effects of chemotherapy.
The research team linked a new class of nanomaterials, called metal-organic frameworks, with the ligands of an already-developed photodynamic therapy drug to create a nanoporous material that targets and kills tumour cells without creating toxicity for normal cells.
Metal-organic frameworks are an emerging class of nanomaterials designed for targeted drug delivery. Ligands are molecules that bind to other molecules, the study said.
“Patients with triple-negative cells are especially vulnerable, because of the toxic side effects of the only approved treatment for this type of cancer,” said study researcher Hassan Beyzavi from the University of Arkansas in the US.
“We’ve addressed this problem by developing a co-formulation that targets cancer cells and has no effect on healthy cells,” Beyzavi added.
The researcher’s focus is on developing new, targeted photodynamic therapy drugs.
As an alternative to chemotherapy — and with significantly fewer side effects — targeted photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is a non-invasive approach that relies on a photosensitizer that, upon irradiation by light, generates so-called toxic reactive oxygen species, which kill cancer cells.
In recent years, PDT has garnered attention because of its ability to treat tumours without surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
Beyzavi’s laboratory has specialised in integrating nanomaterials, such as metal-organic frameworks, with PDT and other and therapies. Metal-organic frameworks significantly enhance the effectiveness of PDT.
The research team prepared the nanomaterials and then bio-conjugated them with ligands of the PDT drug to create nanoporous materials that specifically targeted and killed tumour cells with no toxicity in normal cells.
“In addition to cancer treatment, this novel drug delivery system could also be used with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or fluorescence imaging, which can track the drug in the body and monitor the progress of cancer treatment,” the study authors wrote.