Scientists were able to design an organic coating which can be applied to cancer medications and make them last long enough within the bloodstream to attack not only the primary tumor, but also tumor cells that try to spread cancer within the body.
Scientists said that the coating is made of patients’ platelets also known as thrombocytes, compounds of the blood that help it clot. The method showed promising results in lab animals.
But it may also soon help cancer patients win the battle against the disease and prevent it from reaching the final and deadly stage.
Zhen Gu, one of the study authors and biomedical engineering researcher at N.C. State University, explained that the new coating has a couple of advantages. First, cancer cells are naturally attracted to thrombocytes’ membranes and they tend to stick on the them.
Second, because the coating is made of from patient’s genetic material the immune system doesn’t tag the pills as foreign objects so they can last longer.
As a result, the new drugs not only attack the main tumor as most drugs do, but they also circulate into the bloodstream and capture stray cancer cells that try to spread tumor across the body.
The new drugs are “essentially attacking new tumors before they start,” said Quanyin Hu, senior author of the study.
The research team also said that the drug is more effective than other cancer drugs because it consists of two cancer drugs in one. Researchers first extracted a lab animal’s platelets from its blood. They soon isolated the membranes of the platelets and placed the membranes in a nanoscale gel laden with cancer drug doxorubicin which is highly effective in neutralizing the core of cancer cells.
In a laboratory process, the gel is pushed through the membranes to produce nanoscale spheres. These spheres are made of the cancer drug coated in platelet membrane. Next, researchers coated the sphere in another cancer drug (TRAIL), which destroys the membranes of cancer cells.
After they reached a patient’s bloodstream, the nano spheres can last up to 30 hours before they dissolve. Other nanoscale drug carriers without the coating could only last for up to six hours.
The new drug has a seek-and-destroy action on cancer tumors. They first seek and lock into one place stray cancer cells, by binding some proteins on the membrane with proteins in the membrane of cancer cells.
Then, the TRAIL drug pierces through cancer cells’ membrane. And last, the acidic makeup of cancer cell dissolves the platelet membrane and releases the second cancer drug which destroys the cancer from its core.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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