Disguising Drugs to Cure Tumors? Have we Figured it out?
It is no doubt that mankind has come across several medical challenges over the years. Our medical professionals have been continually faced with tackling diseases like cancer and ebola, and have been doing the best they can to make our world a safer place. And although they have made significant progress, the complexities involved within the human body has still thrown several obstacles that they are yet to overcome. Suppressing tumors has been one such area where doctors still need all the help they can get due to the unpredictable nature of tumor occurrence. But luckily, researchers from the Northwestern University may have just found the solution to this.
Tumors, as one would expect are very tricky to handle. Several drugs have been developed to help suppress them but getting them to bind to the site of the tumor can be quite difficult. For this reason, the researchers from the Northwestern University came up with an ingenious method for drug delivery within the body. They designed the system in such a way that the chemotherapeutics get disguised as fats in order to penetrate the area of the tumor and destroy it.
When the tumors come in contact with substances that mimic fatty acids, they invite them in. And once the disguised drug reaches the inners of the tumor, it gets activated and ultimately kills the tumor cells. This method not only effectively neutralizes the threat but is also safer overall as it is lower in toxicity and has lesser side effects.
To develop this targeting system, the researchers engineered a long chain fatty acid that had two sites for binding. This gives them the ability to attach to drugs from both ends. Once the fatty acid is attached to the drug that is to be transported, they are hidden inside a compound called human serum albumin (HSA) which is responsible for transporting various types of molecules throughout the body.
Once they reach the necessary site within the body, the cell receptors present in that area recognize the fats and the proteins and lets them in. Growing cancer cells are especially hungry for such nutrients and therefore quickly absorb them on contact. This effectively opens the door for our neutralizing drug to enter and nullify the situation.
The researchers used an FDA approved cancer drug called paclitaxel in their studies to test the effectiveness of their drug delivery system. Using this method they were able to eliminate three types of cancer that included bone, pancreatic and colon cancer. They even found that this delivery system was capable of transporting 20 times the dosage of paclitaxel compared to other methods, all while avoiding the toxic effects of such high dosage levels. In Fact the researchers estimated that this delivery system was 17 times safer than other options.
Treating cancers and tumors has always been a painstaking process. Such treatments not only put the patient under a lot of adverse conditions, but are also not a guaranteed method to ensure complete recovery. This finding by the researchers at the Northwestern University could possibly be the answer to our fight against these diseases. With its effectiveness and toxicity free nature, this drug delivery system could finally change the entire way in which doctors treat patients with terminal illnesses the world over.