Monday, December 14, 2015

Nanotech Drug-Delivery System Might Become More Effective Against Metastatic Melanomas

Cancer Research


Gene Mutation: Bisocience Technology writes about the latest research finding at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire: “Melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, is responsible for more than 80 percent of all skin cancer deaths and spreads readily to the lymph nodes and other organs. While early stage melanoma is curable, the later vertical growth phase (VGP) is frequently metastatic, with median survival times of less than nine months. Melanoma that progresses to this stage is often associated with the gene mutation BRAFV600E, which is found in about 50 percent of melanomas. This BRAF mutation activates certain enzyme pathways that are involved in many cell processes.”
Photo Credit & SourceBioscience Technology



An article, by Catharine Paddock, in Medical News Today says that a nanotech-based drug delivery system might prove effective against metastatic melanomas that spread via the lymphatic system. Where chemotherapy often becomes toxic in this case, a more precise (and less toxic) nanotech approach might be the right solution to better patient outcomes.

In “Melanoma treatment could benefit from nanotech drug delivery” (December 10, 2015), Paddock writes:
Once melanoma begins to spread to the rest of the body - usually through the lymphatic system - a patient's chances of survival reduce dramatically. Now a new study, led by Oregon State University in Portland, has revealed a three-drug delivery system using nanoparticles that migrate to the lymph nodes and thereby increase the effectiveness of the anticancer agents.
Effectiveness of current chemotherapy for metastatic melanoma is limited because levels needed to have a therapeutic effect in the lymphatic system are too toxic. Current treatments are hampered because producing drug levels in the lymph node high enough to eliminate tumors creates problems with toxicity. Another drawback is the cancer often also becomes resistant to treatment.
The researchers say the new approach, which they have tested on laboratory animals, can also decrease drug resistance and the toxic effects that this type of chemotherapy often brings.
The nanotech drug-delivery system could also be a step forward in the treatment of any cancer that tends to spread through the lymphatic system, says lead author Adam Alani, an assistant professor in Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy. In addition to melanoma, cancers of the breast, prostate, pancreas, gastric system, lung, and head and neck also tend to spread via the lymphatic system.
The team reports the findings in the Journal of Controlled Release.
Less is more in this case; less chemo is more effective if combined with a newer class of treatments that are more precise and target the cancer cells and not both the cancer and healthy cells, which is what happens with chemotherapy. This brings about in many side effects, including  CIPN (chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy), which I have had for more than 2½ years.

All the more reasons to applaud the latest research. Such a nanotech approach, along with newer treatments, like immunotherapy, virus-based gene therapies and engineered viruses (like the polio virus or the herpes virus), are viewed by cancer researchers as the future of cancer treatments—these are collectively called next-generation treatments. The goal is to use or embolden the body’s defense mechanism (via T cells) to fight cancer at its earliest stages before it progresses, weakens and overwhelms the body's immune system.

Also important, and which might (hopefully) become standard in the next five years, is personal genomics or patient profiling as another weapon in the physician’s arsenal to battle cancer. In an article (“A CEO’s View On Cancer, Virus-Based ‘Cures,’And ‘60 Minutes’ Vs. Reality;” April 8, 2015), by Arlene Weintraub, in Forbes, this is the view of Brad Thompson, CEO of Oncolytics Biotech, a Canadian company invested in virus-based immunotherapies.
Thompson believes that understanding the patients who don’t respond to virus-based treatments will be as important as celebrating those who do. And he’s so optimistic about the emerging science he offers a bold prediction: Within five years there will be a whole suite of these cancer-fighting engineered bugs on the market, he says, which physicians will be able to mix and match based on the exact profile of each patient’s disease.
This is a good, and one could add, an ideal use of human profiling.

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For more, go to [MedNewsToday]