Melatonin Could Enhance Breast Cancer Drug

Nanostructured lipid carriers containing melatonin adjuvant to tamoxifen killed more breast cancer cells than tamoxifen alone.

Findings from a recent study suggest that lipid bubbles filled with melatonin can potentially make the breast cancer drug tamoxifen more effective for breast cancer treatment.

Since these bubbles, called nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs), increase the efficacy of the drug, they could potentially lower the dose, which would result in less side effects for patients, according to the study published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

Tamoxifen can potentially have serious side effects, such as an increased risk of developing uterine cancer, stroke, pulmonary embolism, vision problems, in addition to the possibility of chemoresistance. Prior research has indicated that melatonin can also assist with cancer cell death.

"We tried to solve both issues by putting melatonin into nanostructures so they can help the chemotherapeutic agent kill more cells," said corresponding author Nasser Samadi, MLS D, PhD. "By doing this, you can decrease the dose of tamoxifen needed, reducing the severity of the side effects."

Researchers placed melatonin into the NLCs, which released the melatonin slowly to overcome its problem of breaking down quickly. Researchers found that NLCs containing melatonin adjuvant to tamoxifen stopped the growth of breast cancer cells more than treatment with melatonin alone.

Empty NLCs were also tested, but were unable to kill breast cancer cells and were found to be nontoxic to healthy cells.

"Lots of nanostructures these days are toxic to the body or to other cells, but we found no significant toxicity in the empty NLCs. The characteristics are very suitable for applying to these kinds of treatments,” Dr Samadi said.

The researchers plan to test NCLs containing melatonin in other cancer cells prior to testing the method in animal models, the study concluded.