By Will Soutter
A study published in the latest issue of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)” offers a novel approach to cancer treatment by combining supramolecular nanochemistry with drug design.
The study was carried out by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), which is a not-for-profit teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.
Supramolecular chemistry is characterized by complex chemical systems that deploy molecules as building blocks. The researchers of this study employed such techniques to engineer the nanoparticles for cancer treatment. The nanoparticles which were introduced in ovarian and breast cancer models demonstrated increased antitumor activity at reduced levels of toxicity.
Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta, senior author of the study and associate bioengineer at BWH, stated that their research work has taken cancer treatment from the realm of employing nanomaterials as vehicles for drug delivery to designing drugs to function as nanomedicines. The drug template that the team used for their study is cisplatin, a drug used in first and second line of chemotherapy. The researchers devised a cisplatin nanoparticle. In order to establish an environment conducive for efficient assembly of the nanoparticle, a distinctive platinum (II) component tied to a cholesterol backbone was incorporated. The team found the cisplatin nanoparticle to demonstrate enhanced effectiveness in comparison to in vitro administration of standard cisplatin or carboplatin. In addition, the drug remained active even under conditions resistant to cisplatin. Sengupta perceives their new platin to pave the way for next generation platinum based anti-cancer drugs.