Changing Shape Makes Chemotherapy Drugs Better at Targeting Cancer Cells
Bioengineering researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara have found that changing the shape of chemotherapy drug nanoparticles from spherical to rod-shaped made them up to 10,000 times more effective at specifically targeting and delivering anti-cancer drugs to breast cancer cells. Their findings could have a game-changing impact on the effectiveness of anti-cancer therapies and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, according to the researchers. “Conventional anti-cancer drugs accumulate in the liver, lungs and spleen instead of the cancer cell site due to inefficient interactions with the cancer cell membrane,” explained Samir Mitragotri , professor of chemical engineering and Director of the Center for BioEngineering at UCSB. “We have found our strategy greatly enhances the specificity of anti-cancer drugs to cancer cells.” To engineer these high-specificity drugs, scientists formed rod-shaped nanoparticles from a chemotherapeutic drug, camptothecin, and coated them with an antibody called trastuzumab that is selective for certain types of cancer cells, including breast cancer. The antibody-coated camptothecin nanorods were 10,000-fold more effective than tratsuzumab alone and 10-fold more effective than camptothecin alone at inhibiting breast cancer cell growth.