"Nanomedicine" and Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers have developed a new technique for fighting pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult to treat cancers. The treatment uses two types of nanoparticles.

One type of nanoparticle clears a path into tumor cells so the second type can deliver chemotherapy.

The UCLA research team, led by Dr. Andre Nel, a professor of nanomedicine, and Dr. Huan Meng, a UCLA adjunct assistant professor of nanomedicine, showed that this new drug-delivery technique is effective in treating pancreatic cancer in a mouse model.

The findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.

Pancreatic cancer is usually impossible to detect until it is advanced. Treatments are limited and have low success rates. In pancreatic cancer, tumors are made up of cancer cells surrounded by other structural elements called stroma. The stroma blocks standard chemotherapy drugs from reaching the cancer cells.

The dual-wave nanotherapy used by Nel and Meng uses two different kinds of nanoparticles injected intravenously. The first wave of nanoparticles carries a substance that opening up access to the pancreatic cancer cells; the second wave carries the chemotherapy drug that kills the cancer cells.

In a mouse model, the researchers grew human pancreatic tumors called xenografts under the skin. With the two-wave method, the xenograft tumors had a significantly higher rate of shrinkage than tumors exposed only to chemotherapy.

 "This two-wave nanotherapy is an existing example of how we seek to improve the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to their intended targets using nanotechnology," said Nel "This two-wave treatment approach can also address biological impediments in nanotherapies for other types of cancer."

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