New York, May 23 (IANS) A lipid nano-carrier that can get past the blood-brain barrier could be targeted to deliver a chemotherapeutic drug more efficiently to tumour cells in the brain, a study has found.
"I was very surprised by how efficiently and well it worked once we got the nanocarrier to those cells," said study author Ann-Marie Broome from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
The study, published in the journal Nanomedicine-Future Medicine, showed specific uptake and increased killing in glial cells, so much so that Broome initially questioned the results. She had her team keep repeating the experiments, using different cell lines, dosage amounts and treatment times.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) -- a form of brain tumour -- is a devastating disease with no curative options due to several challenges, said Broome.
The tumour has a significant overall mortality, in part due to its location, difficulty of surgical treatment and the inability to get drugs through the blood-brain barrier, a protective barrier designed to keep a stable environment within and surrounding the brain.
Broome and her team took what they know about the cancer's biology and of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), one of numerous growth factor proteins that regulates cell growth and division and is also over expressed on tumour cells in the brain.
With that in mind, they engineered a micelle that is a phospholipid nanocarrier, "a bit of fat globule", to deliver a concentrated dose of the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (TMZ) to the GBM tumour cells.
"Micelles of a certain size will cross the blood-brain barrier carrying a concentrated amount of TMZ," Broome explained about how the nanotechnology works. "The PDGF is used much like a postal address. The micelle gets it to the street, and the PDGF gets it to the house," she added.
The team is excited about the new research because it potentially points the way to a new treatment option for patients with GBM.
"This paper is exciting because it demonstrates a novel approach to treating brain tumours, combining nanotechnology targeting to a marker of brain tumours with a specialised delivery system," said researcher and clinician Amy Lee Bredlau, director of MUSC Health's Pediatric Brain Tumour Programme.
"It will allow us eventually to target aggressive childhood and adult brain tumours," she added.