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The Potential of Nanoparticles in Treatment of Mesothelioma Patients

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In May, Mesothelioma Help reported that researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found a “promising new nanotechnology-based delivery method” for immunotherapy using nanoparticles. Now, another team of researchers report they have found a way to use this microscopic drug delivery system “for diagnostics, therapy, or both” for cancer care.

In the latest research from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), a team of biophysicists report they engineered a way to cover nanoparticles with biological molecules that allows them to deliver therapy and then examine the effect the drug has on the cancer cells. The particles, for example, can carry properties that can home in on the cancer cells to pinpoint the therapy as well as fluorescent properties to light up the cancer cells for diagnostics.

Using theranostics, the integration of therapeutics and diagnostics, in mesothelioma care is an exciting prospect. Most of the treatments used for mesothelioma, a terminal asbestos-caused cancer, eventually become ineffective, but it  may not be discovered until the mesothelioma cancer is no longer treatable. With diagnostic capabilities embedded in the nanoparticles, the effectiveness of the treatment can be monitored as needed.

The researchers developed a “molecular glue” using the barnase-barstar protein pair to hold the therapeutic and diagnostic components together. The success of this research is due to this glue that can bind up to one million times greater than other types, and can bind with antibodies, drugs, fluorescent molecules and targeting agents. When the two proteins are tightly bound they form “a bifunctional compound” with both therapeutic and diagnostic properties, that  enables targeted drug delivery.

This type of personalized medicine follows the concept that the cancer’s genetic makeup can be used to tailor a patient’s treatment. Mesothelioma can grow at a different rate and respond to different treatments in each patient, that is why mesothelioma patients need treatment that is aimed at their unique characteristics. By allowing the therapeutic aspect of the nanoparticles to be modified, this personalized care optimizes the potential for success of the treatment.

“The demonstrated capabilities show this method to be a promising alternative to commonly used … techniques in nanobiotechnology, theranostics, and clinical applications,” wrote the authors in the study published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer typically affecting the lining of the lungs, is highly aggressive and is resistant to many cancer treatments making it a difficult disease to treat effectively. The prognosis for mesothelioma patients is usually grim: the average survival time varies from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

The paper was published in the April 27 issue of the  journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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