Researchers Deliver Anticancer Drugs Using Nanomaterials

June 14, 2007
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Los Angeles (June 6)-Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) used silica-based nanoparticles to deliver the anticancer drug camptothecin (CPT) and other water-insoluble drugs to human cancer cells.

Los Angeles (June 6)-Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) used silica-based nanoparticles to deliver the anticancer drug camptothecin (CPT) and other water-insoluble drugs to human cancer cells. The team incorporated CPT into the pores of fluorescent mesoporous silica nanoparticles and delivered the particles into various human cancer cells to kill them.

The results suggest that the mesoporous silica nanoparticles could have two advantages as a drug delivery method for current anticancer therapies. First, the nanoparticles deliver poorly water-soluble anticancer drugs without the need for solvents that sometimes produce toxic side effects and reduce the drugs’ potency. Secondly, the nanoparticles are biocompatible.

The study also shows that mesoporous silica nanoparticles could deliver therapeutic agents to targeted organs or cells. Scientists could control the release of the drug by closing the nanoparticles’ pores with an appropriate cap structure.

The study was directed by Fuyu Tamanoi and Jeffrey Zink, two UCLA professors. Tamanoi is  professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics. He also serves as director of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program Area. Zink is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Both Tamanoi and Zink are members of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, which encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration to solve problems in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

“The beauty of our findings is that these nanoparticles are biocompatible, contain tubular pores, and are relatively easy to modify,” Zink said in a UCLA release. “Additional modification by attaching a ligand against a cancer-cell-specific receptor can make the nanoparticles recognizable by cancer cells.”

CPT and its derivatives are considered to be among the most effective new anticancer drugs. Scientists have demonstrated the drugs’ effectiveness against stomach, colon, neck, and bladder cancers. To be used in humans, however, the drugs must be mixed with organic solvents.  

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.