Different cancer drugs use different strategies. DNA-damaging agents, for example, cause the DNA to be disturbed and the tumor to be unable to grow. Photodynamic agents, on the other hand, produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) when irradiated with light. These ROS (often also called oxygen radicals) then interfere with organelles in the cell and drive the cells towards programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, explain the researchers.
A combination of active ingredients can effectively kill cancer cells, according to a joint study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Polymer Research and the Dalian University of Technology in China. The study was published in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.
To destroy cancer cells, combination therapies seem to have a high potential. Now a chemotherapeutic and a photodynamic approach have been combined, which ultimately led to the destruction of tumor cells.
Resistance of cancer to drugs
How can cancer be optimally treated?
However, some cancers have already developed resistance. In such cases, the drug cannot penetrate the cell or the cells quickly repair the damaged DNA strands.
To increase the effectiveness of cancer drugs, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Polymer Research and researchers from the Dalian University of Technology combined chemotherapeutic and photodynamic agents. All active ingredients were encapsulated in a nanocapsule from which they were delivered directly to the tumor cells.
How do cancer drugs work?
The nanocapsules were encapsulated with a protein envelope and light irradiation then triggered a cascade of events that ultimately led to the destruction of the tumor cells, the research group explains in a press release.
According to the team, it was a particular challenge to assemble all the reagents in one nanocapsule. The chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin is poorly soluble in water, while the nanocapsule protein ovalbumin does not dissolve in the organic solvent. Using a miniemulsion technique, all reagents were finally combined in a solvent mixture and encapsulated in a shell of ovalbumin.
The drugs were tested on tumor cell lines. The nanocapsules penetrated the cells, released their charge and developed ROS when irradiated with red light. The drugs also killed cells that were normally resistant to cisplatin or had a particularly low oxygen concentration.
The cancer drugs in the nanocapsules were delivered to the tumor and acted synergistically. Treatments with only one drug or a combination of two drugs were much less effective. Similar synergistic platforms for drug delivery will play an important role in future therapy settings, the experts summarize. (as)
The combined encapsulated drugs also stopped tumor growth in experiments with living mice. The team was able to show that the reagents accumulated in tumor tissue. They also allowed the tumors to shrink over time without affecting healthy tissue or other organs.
WashingtonNewsday Health and Wellness.