Tuesday January 21, 2020

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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Males Have Higher Risk of Suffering from Cancer: Study

Researchers explain why cancer risk is higher in males

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Cancer
DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males. Pixabay

DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males, according to a new study.

In findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers have reported that loss of function in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosome, which is present only in men, may cause them to have an elevated risk for cancer.

Using data from 9,000 individuals, the researchers studied Y-chromosome gene function in patients with various types of cancer. The findings showed that cancer risk increases with loss of function of six key Y-chromosome genes in various types of cells.

“Recent studies have shown that complete loss of the Y chromosome, which is essential to foetal sex differentiation, occurs, with aging, in the cells of some men,” said study author Juan Ramon Gonzalez from Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.

Cancer DNA
Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome. Pixabay

“Although the loss of the Y chromosome has previously been associated with higher incidence of cancer, the causes of this association are poorly understood,” Gonzalez added.

These six Y-chromosome genes are involved in cell-cycle regulation, the failure of which can lead to tumour development.

According to the study, understanding the biological differences between men and women in cancer is crucial for the development of personalised lines of treatment and prevention.

“Men are not only at higher risk of cancer than women, they also face a worse prognosis. In fact, these differences partially account for the lower life expectancy of men,” Gonzalez added.

According to the researchers, although men may be more exposed to carcinogens due to the type of work they do and at higher risk because they are less likely to consult a doctor, the study has shown that there are also biological factors that increase cancer risk among men.

“In fact, it seems that one of these factors can be found in the Y chromosome, the very essence of maleness,” said study lead author Alejandro Caceres.

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Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome, which would explain previous findings, or as a result of other mechanisms mediated by the chemical (epigenetic) inactivation of the same regions, the research said.

“Certain environmental exposures, for example to tobacco or other harmful substances, could affect chromosome function and lead to epigenetic modifications,” Gonzalez said. (IANS)