Nanoparticles Delivering Chemotherapy To Breast Cancer In Bone

Bone fracture.

Scientists have developed nanoparticles that can deliver chemotherapy to breast cancer tumor cells that have spread to bone. The nanoparticles have been tested in mice with success.

Breast cancer often spreads to bone, causing fractures and pain and chemotherapy is often ineffective because the bone's structure can protect the tumor.

In mice, researchers used the treatment to kill tumors and reduce bone destruction.

The mice were implanted with human breast cancer and exposed to cancer cells likely to cause bone cancer. The researchers then used the treatment on those mice whose cancer had spread to the bone. The study found that most of the mice saw reduced bone tumors when the nanoparticles were used to deliver chemotherapy.

The researchers were proving that the cancer cells that spread to bone have "velcro-like" surfaces that help tumor cells stick to the bone. These "adhesion molecules" are also on some cells responsible for bone regeneration. The nanoparticles mimic those adhesive molecules and thus can deliver chemo drugs to the cancer inside the bone.

“When we gave these nanoparticles to mice that had metastases, the treatment dramatically reduced the bone tumors,” senior author Katherine N. Weilbaecher, a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis said. “There was less bone destruction, fewer fractures, less tumor. The straight chemo didn’t work very well, even at much higher doses, and it caused problems with liver function and other toxic side effects, which is our experience with patients."

The study, which also broke ground on finding out why bone is often the first place metastasis occurs, was published in Cancer Research.



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