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Novel nanocarrier ideal for efficient anti-tumor drug delivery discovered

Author: Update time: 2014-10-24

Chemotherapy, though with significant side effect, is still the main treatment chosen for cancer patients. How to improve drug efficacy and reduce side effect has long been a challenge in cancer drug research.

During recent years, nanotechnology has been applied to develop nanocarriers of drugs so that they can precisely target at and kill tumor cells, reducing damages to normal tissue. An ideal nanocarrier for drug delivery should be able to carry high doses of therapeutic drugs, to target at tumor cells simultaneously, and have favorable physicochemical properties and biocompatibility. However, integrating all above characteristics into one carrier is engineering complicated and difficult. So far, no targeted nanoparticle system has yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, reflecting in part the complexity of designing particles that meet all of the criteria required for accurate drug delivery.

Professor YAN Xiyun and her colleagues at the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Science recently discovered a nanocarrier ideal for efficient anti-tumor drug delivery. They published this breakthrough in a paper entitled “H-ferritin–nanocaged doxorubicin nanoparticles specifically target and kill tumors with a single-dose injection” in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This accomplishment is no surprise to Professor YAN who has been developing nanotech for many years. Her group successfully discovered a novel nanozyme (Nature Nanotechnol. 2007) and proposed its application for tumor diagnosis (Nature Nanotechnol. 2012).

Their recent work demonstrated for the first time that a natural H-ferritin nanocage, without requiring any surface functionalization or property modulation, can be employed as a nanocarrier of tumor drugs. The new nanocarrier specifically delivers high doses of therapeutic drug doxorubicin to tumor cells and completely inhibits tumor growth with only a single dose treatment, while exhibiting excellent safety profiles and biocompatibility.

This high efficient and safe antitumor drug delivery system is revolutionary in the development of cancer therapies. The idea of employing naturally existed materials for targeted drug delivery, instead of focusing on complex particle engineering has totally changed the designing concept of drug carrier in nanomedicine field; it will lead to new directions and methodologies in developing new safe and biocompatible nanomaterials in vivo.

The paper was published in PNAS (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1407808111,

Figure 1: Natural H-ferritin loaded with therapeutic drug are delivered to a tumor by exploiting its intrinsic tumor-targeting property and the optimized EPR effect of tumors. (A) Schematic depiction of the Dox loading process. (B) In vivo nuclear imaging of HT-29 tumors. (C) Antitumor activity of HFn-Dox NPs.

  Source: IBP, CAS

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