Saturday March 23, 2019

Nanoparticles May Spur Spread of Cancer

Nanomedicines, used for cancer treatments may also promote the spread of cancer, say researchers

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nanoparticles
Nanoparticles may accelerate the spread of cancer

Nanomedicines, considered as providing an efficient way to transcend the limits of standard cancer treatments, could also have unintended and harmful side effects like accelerating cancer spread, say researchers.

The findings caution against possible side effects of cancer nanomedicines, which are designed to kill cancer cells, and other common nanoparticles but paves the way for safer design and better treatment strategies.

Using breast cancer as a model, researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) discovered that common nanoparticles made from gold, titanium dioxide, silver and silicon dioxide — and also used in nanomedicines — widen the gap between blood vessel cells, making it easier for other cells, such as cancer cells, to go in and out of “leaky” blood vessels.

The phenomenon, named ‘nanomaterials induced endothelial leakiness’ (NanoEL), accelerates the movement of cancer cells from the primary tumour and also causes circulating cancer cells to escape from blood circulation.

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This results in faster establishment of a bigger secondary tumour site and initiates new secondary sites previously not accessible to cancer cells, the team explained.

“For a cancer patient, the direct implication of our findings is that long term, pre-existing exposure to nanoparticles — for instance, through everyday products or environmental pollutants — may accelerate cancer progression, even when nanomedicine is not administered,” said David Leong, Associate Professor at NUS.

“The interactions between these tiny nanomaterials and the biological systems in the body need to be taken into consideration during the design and development of cancer nanomedicine.

“It is crucial to ensure that the nanomaterial delivering the anti-cancer drug does not also unintentionally accelerate tumour progression. As new breakthroughs in nanomedicine unfold, we need to concurrently understand what causes these nanomaterials to trigger unexpected outcomes,” he noted in the study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Lab Technician
Diagnosis lab.

The NUS researchers are harnessing the NanoEL effect to design more effective therapies.

For example, nanoparticles that induce NanoEL can potentially be used to increase blood vessel leakiness, and in turn promote the access of drugs or repairing stem cells to diseased tissues that may not be originally accessible to therapy. (IANS)

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Researchers Discover Balance of Two Enzymes That May Help Treat Pancreatic Cancer

While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A new research has set the stage for clinicians to potentially use levels of a pancreatic cancer patient’s PHLPP1 and PKC enzymes as a prognostic and for researchers to develop new therapeutic drugs that change the balance of the two enzymes as a means to treat the disease.

The study, published on Wednesday in Molecular Cell, was led by Alexandra Newton, professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, and Timothy Baffi, a graduate student in her lab, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new study built on the team’s work in 2015 that found the enzyme PKC, which was believed in previous studies to promote tumour growth, actually suppressed it.

The latest study took the investigation a step further by uncovering how cells regulate PKC activity and discovered that any time an over-active PKC is inadvertently produced, the PHLPP1 “proofreader” tags it for destruction.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

“That means the amount of PHLPP1 in your cells determines your amount of PKC,” Newton said. “And it turns out those enzyme levels are especially important in pancreatic cancer.”

The team observed 105 pancreatic cancer tumours to analyze the enzyme levels in each one. About 50 per cent of patients with low PHLPP1/high PKC lived longer than five-and-a-half years.

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While still in the earliest stages, Newton hoped this information might one day aid pancreatic diagnostics and treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system. It typically doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages. Sufferers tend to develop signs, such as back pain and jaundice, when it has spread to other organs. (IANS)