Nanoparticles May Increase Effectiveness of Lung Cancer Drugs

Treatment can selectively drop medication at the site of tumors.

Treatment can selectively drop medication at the site of tumors.

The use of nanoparticles may improve the treatment of lung cancer by serving as a carrier for medications to be dropped at the site of tumors.

German researchers developed the nanocarriers in order to selectively release drugs at the tumor site in human and mouse lungs. In a study published in the journal ACS Nano, the team of investigators note that the use of nanoparticles may significantly enhance the effectiveness of current cancer treatments for lung tumor tissue.

Nanoparticles, which can be modified to transport drugs specifically to the site of the disease without affecting healthy body parts. The German researchers were able to develop for the first time nanocarriers that only release drugs in the area of lung tumors.

Lung tumor tissue has previously been found to contain high volume of certain proteases. The researchers capitalized on this by altering nanocarriers with a protective layer that only the proteases can break down, which then releases the drug.

Protease concentrations in healthy lung tissue are too low to remove the protective layer, which causes the drugs to stay protected within the nanocarrier.

"Using these nanocarriers we can very selectively release a drug such as a chemotherapeutic agent specifically at the lung tumor," research group leader Silke Meiners, of the Comprehensive Pneumology Center, said in a press release. "We observed that the drug's effectiveness in the tumor tissue was 10 to 25 times greater compared to when the drugs were used on their own. At the same time, this approach also makes it possible to decrease the total dose of medicines and consequently to reduce undesirable effects."