The experimental new treatment, being developed by researchers from the Moscow-based Russian National Research Medical University, has been successfully tested on cancer-afflicted lab mice, showing a nearly 70% increase in the animals’ lifespan.
The drug consists of magnetite nanoparticles laced with a toxic cytostatic agent, which attacks and destroys tumor cells. The other element consists of vector molecules, which accompany and direct the nanoparticles to the cancer-affected organ. The medication’s molecules act according to a kind of ‘key-lock’ mechanism, meaning they attach themselves only to diseased cells.
Speaking to Sputnik, Medical University Biomedical Nanomaterials Lab head Maxim Abakumov said that the new drug has several benefits.
“Our studies have shown that the proposed therapeutic regiment is effective. In vitro and in vivo experiments show that the lifespan of animals treated with the new drug increased by 69.5%, from 23 days to 39 days. Furthermore, the drug can be used to visualize tumor tissue during MRI studies. This can potentially serve to facilitate the work of surgeons during operations aimed at designating and marking the edges of the affected organ,” the chief researcher said.
The university’s scientists have been experimenting with the medical properties of magnetite nanoparticles for four years now. In addition to the new anti-tumor drug, researchers see good prospects for a hyperthermia treatment which uses the nanoparticles and an alternating electromagnetic field to heat the particles up to between 43 and 45 degrees Celsius, killing the surrounding cancer cells but leaving healthy cells unaffected.
Doctors are continuing their work to optimize their new cancer drug, which is expected to enter the next stage of preclinical research in 2019.
The scientists’ research has been published in the Nanomedicine scientific journal.