One of the most vexing problems for oncologists and disheartening developments for patients is the development of drug resistance by tumor cells. When this occurs, the chemotherapy used by physicians has an initial effect that kills cancer cells and shrinks the tumor size. But, after the treatment course is completed, the remaining cells cause an eventual return of the tumor that is termed a clinical relapse.
This scenario is distressingly common in patients with ovarian cancer and is a reason for the late mortality of this disease. However, a new strategy to combat the mechanism that some cells use to avoid death following chemotherapy has been developed by Mansoor Amiji, PhD and fellow researchers at Northwestern University.
This team, who also collaborated with researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, has developed a polymeric nanoparticle that is capable of delivering chemotherapy to ovarian cancer cells using a staged, two drug delivery system. The first drug released is ceramide which knocks out a key early enzyme that cells use to avoid programmed cell death (apoptosis). The second drug loaded onto the nanoparticle and delivered to the cancer cell lacking the key enzyme is paclitaxel, which has traditionally been the first-line drug to fight ovarian cancer.
The Northwestern invesigators showed that the two drug nanoparticle killed 100% of drug-resistant ovarian cancer cells in vitro (growing in culture in the lab).
The full description of the experiment is detailed in the paper Modulation of Intracellular Ceramide Using Polymeric Nanoparticles to Overcome Multidrug Resistance in Cancer. The abstract can be viewed via PubMed.
Copyright 2007 InsideSurgery.com