Washington: By binding multiple molecules of a common leukemia drug with nanodiamonds, scientists have managed to boost the delivery of the drug to leukemic cells and retain the drug within the cells to combat the cancer.
This novel discovery, reported for the first time, addresses one of the major challenges in the treatment of leukemia where the cancer cells develop ways to pump drugs out of the body before they can do their job, particularly after they are exposed to chemotherapeutics.
Developed by Dr Edward Chow, Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore and Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at National University of Singapore (NUS), in collaboration with Professor Dean Ho of the UCLA School of Dentistry, this innovation shows promise for greater efficacy in treating leukemia, particularly in non-adherent cells.
Daunorubicin is currently one of the most common drugs used to treat leukemia. The drug works by slowing down or stopping cancer cells from growing, causing many of them to die. It is also common, however, for leukemia to become resistant to this drug after treatment.
One mechanism by which this opposition, commonly known as chemoresistance, happens is through the expression of drug transporter pumps in leukemia cells that actively pump out chemotherapeutics, including Daunorubicin.
Current approaches to neutralising chemo-resistance have centred on developing competitive inhibitors. These efforts have limited success, with challenges like high toxicity levels and less-than-promising results during clinical trials.
The team of scientists from NUS and UCLA turned to nanodiamonds, which are tiny, carbon-based particles that are 2 to 8 nanometers in diameter, as an option to address chemo-resistance.
Dr Chow studied the biological basis of how nanodiamonds can potentially overcome chemo-resistance.
The scientists bound the surfaces of nanodiamonds with Daunorubicin, and the hybrid nanodiamond-drug complexes were introduced to leukemic cells.
The research team found that nanodiamonds could carry the drug to the cancer cells without being pumped out.
Due to their non-invasive sizes and unique surface features, nanodiamonds can be easily released without blocking up blood vessels.
The findings are published online in the medical journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine.