How can cancer be optimally treated?
Combination therapies appear to have great potential to destroy cancer cells. Now, a chemotherapeutic and photodynamic approach has been combined, which ultimately leads to the destruction of tumor cells.
A combination of active ingredients can effectively kill cancer cells, according to a joint study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and Dalian University of Technology in China. The study was published in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.
How do cancer drugs work?
Different cancer drugs use different strategies. DNA-damaging agents cause, for example, that the DNA is disrupted and the tumor cannot grow. In contrast, photodynamic agents generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to light. These ROSs (often also called oxygen radicals) then interfere with the organelles of the cell and drive the cells in the direction of programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, the researchers explain.
Cancer resistance to drugs
However, some cancers have already developed resistance. In such cases, the drug cannot enter the cell or the cells quickly repair damaged DNA strands.
Combined drug in nanocapsule
In order to increase the effectiveness of anticancer drugs, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and researchers at Dalian University of Technology have combined chemotherapeutic and photodynamic agents. All the active ingredients were enclosed in a nanocapsule, from which they were delivered directly to tumor cells.
The nanocapsules have been encapsulated with a protein shell and the light irradiation then triggers a cascade of events that ultimately result in the destruction of tumor cells, the research group explains in a press release.
Structure of nanocapsules
According to the team, it was a particular challenge to assemble all the reagents in a nanocapsule. The chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin is said to be poorly soluble in water, while the nanocapsule protein ovalbumin does not dissolve in the organic solvent. Using a mini-emulsion technique, all of the reagents were finally combined in a mixture of solvents and enclosed in an ovalbumin shell.
Benefits of combined treatment
The drugs have been tested on tumor cell lines. Nanocapsules entered cells, released their charge, and developed ROS when exposed to red light. The active ingredients also killed cells that were normally resistant to cisplatin or that had particularly low oxygen concentration.
The drugs also worked in mice
The combined encapsulated drugs also arrested tumor growth in experiments with live mice. The team was able to show that the reagents accumulated in the tumor tissue. They also made tumors shrink over time without affecting healthy tissue or other organs.
The anticancer drugs contained in the nanocapsules were administered to the tumor and acted synergistically there. Treatments with a single active ingredient or a combination of two active ingredients were much less effective. Similar synergistic platforms for drug delivery will play an important role in future therapeutic settings, experts summarize. (as)
Will cancer be treated more effectively with the help of combination drugs in the future? (Image: Rido / Stock.Adobe.com)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Shuai Jiang, Ming Xiao, Wen Sun, Daniel Crespy, Volker Mailänder et al .: Synergistic Anticancer Therapy by Ovalbumin Encapsulation – Enabled Tandem Reactive Oxygen Species Generation, in Angewandte Chemie (published July 19, 2020), Angewandte Chemie (published October 13, 2020) 2020), Angewandte Chemie
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.