Tumour-targeting nanoparticles loaded with a drug that makes cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy's toxicity can be a new approach in the treatment of endometrial cancer -- that begins in the uterus, researchers suggest.
Combining traditional chemotherapy with the relatively new cancer drug that attacks chemo-resistant tumour cells, the researchers packed both into tiny nanoparticles to create an extremely selective and lethal cancer treatment.
The super-lethal nanoparticles reduced tumour growth and extended survival rates, a researcher said.
"For the first time, we were able to combine two different tumour-targeting strategies and use them to defeat deadly Type II endometrial cancer.
"We believe this treatment could be used to fight other cancers, as well," said lead researcher Kareem Ebeid, graduate student at the University of Iowa.
In mice with Type II endometrial cancer, the team combined two anti-cancer drugs: paclitaxel, a type of chemotherapy used to treat endometrial cancer, and nintedanib, or BIBF 1120, a relatively new drug used to restrict tumour blood vessel growth.
However, in the study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, nintedanib was used to target tumour cells with a specific mutation, known as Loss of Function p53 that interrupts the normal life cycle of tumour cells and makes them more resistant to the lethal effects of chemotherapy.
Paclitaxel chemotherapy killed cells when they were in the process of cell division, but tumour cells with the Loss of Function p53 mutation often slowed down this process, making cancer more resistant to the chemotherapy treatment.
Nintedanib, on the other hand, attacked tumour cells with the mutation and compelled them to divide, a point at which they were easily killed by chemotherapy.
"Basically, we are taking advantage of the tumour cells' Achilles heel--the Loss of Function mutation--and then sweeping in and killing them with chemotherapy," Ebeid said.
The novel approach could also be used to treat other cancers as well, including types of ovarian and lung cancers that also carry the Loss of Function p53 mutation, he noted.