Cancer therapy without side-effects?

Cancer therapy without side-effects?

Summary: Most of you know at least one person who has been affected by cancer and treated by chemotherapy, suffering from side-effects such as hair loss or nausea. This is because chemotherapy attacks both healthy and unhealthy cells in the whole body. Now, Australian researchers are using nanotechnology to offer chemotherapy relief. They've created 'nano-cells' from 'inert' bacteria -- meaning they can't reproduce -- which can deliver potent drugs exactly where they're needed. As this new therapy allows to target very precisely the tumors, the amounts of drugs are much smaller and the harmful side-effects of chemotherapy will be avoided in the future. This method could be used for a wide variety of cancers and human clinical trials should start by the end of this year.

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Most of you know at least one person who has been affected by cancer and treated by chemotherapy, suffering from side-effects such as hair loss or nausea. This is because chemotherapy attacks both healthy and unhealthy cells in the whole body. Now, Australian researchers are using nanotechnology to offer chemotherapy relief. They've created 'nano-cells' from 'inert' bacteria -- meaning they can't reproduce -- which can deliver potent drugs exactly where they're needed. As this new therapy allows to target very precisely the tumors, the amounts of drugs are much smaller and the harmful side-effects of chemotherapy will be avoided in the future. This method could be used for a wide variety of cancers and human clinical trials should start by the end of this year.

Here are some short excerpts of the Agençe France-Presse report.

Researchers there have used bacterial cells stripped of reproductive powers to develop receptacles capable of carrying any chemotherapy drug. These 'nano-cells', which are about one-fifth the size of of normal human cells, are then tagged with antibodies, which are attracted to cancerous tumours. Once the nano-cell hits the cancer and attaches, the drug is released directly into the malignant growth.

As said Jennifer MacDiarmid of Sydney-based biotechnology company EnGeneIC, "Your hair wouldn't fall out, you wouldn't throw up... some chemotherapy is life-threatening in itself." And she added that with their new method, "There is no other system where you can get so much drug concentrated into a little parcel."

In "Cancer therapy cuts side effects," BBC News adds more details about the future of this method.

It is hoped the technique could treat tumours in the breast, ovaries, colon and lungs. So far it has been used in mice and dogs, and the researchers plan to begin human trials shortly. In tests, the technique reduced tumours in animals without side effects - and by using only a very small amount of drug. Dr MacDiarmid said the treatment could potentially be used on any solid tumours.

In "'Mini-cells' could stop side-effects of chemotherapy," New Scientist asks the question: "Could bacteria be the future of cancer therapy?" And it describes what the researchers have done with bacteria.

When bacteria divide, they normally do so at their centres. But Himanshu Brahmbhatt and Jennifer MacDiarmid, of EnGeneIC in Sydney, Australia, have found a way of forcing them to divide at their ends, producing small buds of cytoplasm each time. They have also discovered that a range of different drugs could be packaged into these particles. These "mini bacteria", or EnGeneIC Delivery Vehicles (EDVs) as the company has dubbed them, are cheap and easy to produce, and can be used as targeted drug delivery vehicles.
"They look like bacteria but they have no chromosomes and are non-living," says MacDiarmid. "And because they have a rigid membrane they don't break down when injected, so they carry their payload happily to the target site."

This research work has been published online by Cancer Cell under the name "Bacterially Derived 400 nm Particles for Encapsulation and Cancer Cell Targeting of Chemotherapeutics" (Volume 11, Issue 5, Pages 431-445, May 2007). Below is the beginning of the abstract.

Systemic administration of chemotherapeutic agents results in indiscriminate drug distribution and severe toxicity. Here we report a technology potentially overcoming these shortcomings through encapsulation and cancer cell-specific targeting of chemotherapeutics in bacterially derived 400 nm minicells. We discovered that minicells can be packaged with therapeutically significant concentrations of chemotherapeutics of differing charge, hydrophobicity, and solubility.

These findings have also recently been presented by Himanshu Brahmbhatt, Joint CEO, EnGeneIC Pty Ltd, at the RNAi 2007 conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 3, 2007. By scrolling down through this page, you'll discover the abstract of the presentation named "Turning siRNA into a cancer therapeutic: Bacterially-derived non-living nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of siRNA and shRNA for potent anti-tumor effects in vivo." [Note: siRNA is a shortcut for Small interfering RNA, as described by Wikipedia.] Below is a comment about how these nanoparticles, dubbed as EDVs (EnGeneIC Delivery Vehicles), are acting.

We discovered that EDVs can be packaged with therapeutically significant concentrations of siRNAs as well as chemotherapeutic drugs of differing charge, hydrophobicity and solubility. Targeting of EDVs via bispecific antibodies (BsAbs) to receptors on cancer cell membranes results in endocytosis, intracellular degradation and release of the payload. Intact and fully functional siRNAs are released intracellularly to achieve target mRNA knockdown resulting in highly significant anti-tumor effects as well as drug resistance reversal.

And for even more information, you can read the patent granted to EnGeneIC Pty Ltd under the name "Intact minicells as vectors for DNA transfer and gene therapy in vitro and in vivo" about this new form of cancer therapy. Here are two links provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and by FreePatentsOnline.com.

Sources: Agençe France-Presse, via COSMOS magazine, Australia, May 14, 2007; BBC News, May 11, 2007; Linda Geddes, New Scientist, May 7, 2007; and various websites

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Topic: Mobility

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9 comments
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  • All great and good, but...

    The majority won't be able to afford it, health insurers will probably call it experimental and decline coverage.

    Only the richest folks will be able to take advantage.

    In the US, at least. We have a health care system based on greed, and since this is a pharmacutical that puts it in the greediest catagory :(
    BitTwiddler
    • Which is why we should Nationalize the entire Pharmacutical Industry

      After all "competition" does not really exist between the various Pharmacutical
      giants a key factor in keeping prices low....does not happen.

      GREED is the big factor here NEVER and I do mean never give a vendor a gun (Your
      or your loved ones health) and think they won't use it to get as much as they can
      out of you (even if that means some of us die for lack of treatment so be it as long
      as they get rich and richer still)

      I'm not usually a fan of big government but why do we think that research
      scientists working for our government would be less productive than those
      working for the Pharmacuticals? Does a scientist care where his paycheck comes
      from? NO!!! a thousand times no! And without the concerns of profit margin,
      and stock holders I think scientists would be free to think outside the profit box to
      find not only treatments but perhaps cures (Something I don't see Pharmacuticals
      interested in because it would kill the goose that lays the golden pill)

      Pagan jim
      Laff
  • Total crap

    Eat dried Apricot seeds instead. B-17 goodness...
    Omch'Ar
    • (OT) Careful...

      ...the FDA will be on your doorstep for even mentioning apricot seeds as a possible treatment for cancer. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, she began seeing a doctor who told her about apricot seeds. He had a source for the seeds, but not long thereafter that source was shut down by the FDA. We eventually found a farm that had plenty of apricot pits on hand and was willing to sell us some. We didn't tell them why we wanted the pits, so they couldn't get in trouble. We bought about 100 lbs at a time. My brother-in-law devised a pit cracking machine so we could rapidly crack the pits and get the seeds out. The cancer eventally took my wife, but I feel that she lived longer because of the apricot seeds than she would have lived without them.

      I've often wondered why the FDA is so down on apricot seeds, even to the point of sending people to jail just for selling them. I've always assumed it was the influence of the medical profession.

      Carl Rapson
      rapson
      • 99.95% likely to be true that the Pharmacuticals have

        something to do with it. See those commericals on TV about news papers who claim
        that giving the goverment power to negotiate drug prices would be bad for
        seniors...yeah right. It's time to take the "money" out of medicine and return or
        make it's focus on the people and their quality of life. Also it would be GREAT to see
        medicine concentraite on quality of life rather than just quanitity of life. If you are
        going to make me live longer how about better as well?

        Pagan jim
        Laff
  • Some don't suffer side effects

    When my mother (82) was recently diagnosed with an aggressive uterine cancer and had subsequent therapy, I was dreading the effects of chemotherapy upon her, as they deliberately chose a powerful chemotherapy regime to match the aggressiveness of the cancer.

    Yes she lost her hair - looks quite punkish atm, but she has suffered no ill effects from the chemotherapy at all (besides a bit of boredom) and some tiredness after around 7 treatments (and yes the chemo is working). According to the doctors around 10% of patients have no adverse effects from chemotherapy.

    I only hope that when I need it, I have the same response.
    TonyMcS
  • Message has been deleted.

    Michael830816@...
  • RE: Cancer therapy without side-effects?

    Did this treatment start to be applied? AND WHERE IS IT APLIIED RIGHT NOW?
    oersoy
  • RE: Cancer therapy without side-effects?

    did the treatment started to be applied and where can i take the treatment
    oersoy