The use of nanoparticles for targeted cancer treatment has greatly increased in the past couple of years, with the technology continually improving. While nanoparticles were designed to simply deliver medicine directly to the tumor cells, the nanoparticles are now capable of carrying multiple medications at once and a team of researchers from MIT have taken the treatment a step further by designing time release nanoparticles. In a very recent study, the team from MIT noticed that while dosing cancer patients with multiple medications improved the efficacy of drugs, the treatment was optimal when the patients received the different medications at distinct times. For instance, a cancer patient might receive a nanoparticle carrying erlotinib and doxorubicin. The erlotinib will be released into the tumor cells first, prohibiting the growth and replication of the cell. Next, the patient will receive a dose of doxorubicin anywhere between four and 24 hours later which will attack the DNA of the cancer cells, prohibiting protein synthesis.
In initial tests, mice who had transplanted tumors of human breast and lung cancer and received the timed nanoparticle treatment saw a significant decrease in the tumor size, even compared to mice who received the two medicines together. Before human trials can begin, the researchers from MIT plan to test the treatment on mice whose cancer develops naturally.