From a news release from the University of California:
UCLA researchers have developed a potential new treatment for triple-negative breast cancer that uses nanoscale, diamond-like particles called nanodiamonds.
Nanodiamonds are between 4 and 6 nanometers in diameter and are shaped like tiny soccer balls. Byproducts of conventional mining and refining operations, the particles can form clusters following drug binding and have the ability to precisely deliver cancer drugs to tumors, significantly improving the drugs' desired effect. In the UCLA study, the nanodiamond delivery system has been able to home in on tumor masses in mice with TNBC.
Findings from the study are published online April 15 in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Materials.
"This study demonstrates the versatility of the nanodiamond as a targeted drug-delivery agent to a tumor site," said Dean Ho, a professor at theUCLA School of Dentistry and co-director of the school's Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology. Ho is also a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Department of Bioengineering. "The agent we've developed reduces the toxic side effects that are associated with treatment and mediates significant reductions in tumor size."
The team combined several cancer-fighting components on the nanodiamond surface, including Epirubicin, a chemotherapy drug that is often administered in combination with other cancer drugs. The new compound was then bound to a cell-membrane material coated with antibodies that were targeted toward the epidermal growth factor receptor, which is often highly concentrated on the surfaces of TNBC cells. The resulting agent is a drug-delivery system called a nanodiamond-lipid hybrid compound, or NDLP.
When tested on mice, the agent was shown to notably decrease tumor growth and eliminate the side effects of cancer treatment.
Epirubicin can cause serious side effects, such as heart failure and reduced white blood cell count, and it has been linked to an increased risk for leukemia. In the study, all of the mice that were given Epirubicin alone died well before the completion of the study. But all the mice given Epirubicin through the targeted NDLPs survived the treatment, and some of the tumors regressed until they were no longer visible.
"Triple-negative breast cancer is often very aggressive and hard to treat, making aggressive chemotherapy a requirement," said Dr. Edward K. Chow, co-first author of the study and an assistant professor at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore. "The targeting and therapeutic efficiency of the nanodiamond-lipid agents were quite remarkable. The simultaneous tumor regression and improved drug tolerance are promising indicators for the continued development of the nanodiamonds toward clinical translation."
The research team is now studying the use of the NDLPs in larger animals. Additional research objectives include determining whether nanodiamonds can enhance the tolerance of a wide spectrum of highly toxic drug compounds, which may improve current treatment options and outcomes. These discoveries will serve as precursors for human trials, the researchers said.