Research has shown that nanomedicine has the potential to minimize the side effects of therapeutic drugs and help customize cancer treatments. There has been some progress with the first goal but not with the second goal of personalizing cancer treatments.
Recently, a new step toward observing where certain cancer drugs accumlate in the body in order to better treat patients was reported by researchers in the ACS Nano journal. The drug-carrying, lipid-based nanoparticles were tested in animals.
New research has revealed the level of complication involved in customizing treatment for cancer patients. It is expected that the same drug will accumulate in tumors at different concentrations in patients with various types of cancers. But this also will happen in patients diagnosed with the same kind of cancer. To better assess which patients would gain from specific nanomedicines such as DOXIL® or other liposomal drugs, it would be helpful to establish in the initial phase of a patient's treatment if a drug is reaching the right places in effective dosages. Rafael T. M. de Rosales, Alberto Gabizon and colleagues aimed to solve this challenge.
The researchers formulated a simple technique to fasten labels to aminobisphosphonates, which are metal-binding cancer drugs normally used to treat bone metastases, packaged in liposomes. They expanded the technique to liposome-entrapped doxorubicin, another metal-binding drug broadly used in cancer chemotherapy and present in a variety of liposome-based nanomedicines. The labels - and therefore the liposomal drugs - could then be observed using positron emission tomography (PET) to see which areas of the body they have reached. The researchers reported that when PET was used to image mouse models of ovarian and breast cancer, the images revealed that the drugs accumulated in tumors and metastatic tissues in different concentrations and, in a majority of cases, at levels much more than those in healthy tissues.
According to the researchers, in a certain mouse strain, the nanomedicines ended up in uteruses. This would not have been detected if imaging study was not performed. Therefore, this sort of imaging data could help predict the amount of drug that will be delivered to cancer tissues in specific patients, and if the nanomedicine is making contact with all the patient's tumors in therapeutic concentrations.