New breakthrough in triple-negative breast cancer treatment

By Paul Basilio, MDLinx
Published March 28, 2017

Key Takeaways

Researchers in the UK have developed a potential new treatment for the highly aggressive “triple-negative” breast cancer. The new drug also comes with a nanoparticle to deliver it directly into cancer cells.

The research was a collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. It began at the Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) in 2014, and was led by Professor Mohamed El-Tanani, PhD.

Professor El-Tanani discovered the peptide drug that blocks the protein RAN. Increased RAN levels have been associated with aggressive tumor growth, metastasis, resistance to chemotherapy, and poor prognosis for many cancers. In addition, a nanoparticle was developed to help deliver the drug directly into cancer cells.

Further testing showed that when the nanoparticle was loaded with the peptide and introduced to triple-negative breast cancer cells, the cells actively took in the drug. The cells’ growth was reduced, and approximately two-thirds of the cells died within 24 hours. When administered separately, the peptide drug or the nanoparticle alone had no impact on cell growth.

“The peptide prevents RAN from being activated, “said Kyle Matchett, BSc (Hons), PhD, FHEA, from the Queen’s CCRCB and one of the authors of the study. “In its normal form it degrades quickly reducing its effectiveness. This novel delivery mechanism of using a small capsule known as a nanoparticle allows the drug to directly target the cancer cells and increases its effect.”

Dr. Matchett added that the research brings medical science one step closer to a new treatment. Additional pre-clinical experiments are planned prior to initiation of clinical trials.

The research was recently published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

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