Cancer cells interacting with nanoparticles
Cancer drug research at Trent advances forward with consistent results showing that nano-silver particles are an effective chemotherapeutic agent for neuroblastoma.
The Drug Discovery program is a newly instituted research initiative at Trent University, based on the early stage research of Adam Noble, which focuses on using Medical Grade Nano-Particles to treat various types of cancer.
“The particle that we have developed has shown to be quite effective,” said the Environmental and Life Sciences, Ph.D candidate, Andressa F. Lacerda, the primary active researcher of the project. Further, “We found that drug dosage can be increased by about four times of what we would expect it to be toxic, and still remain to be non- toxic,” she added.
Lacerda explained that it is important to find the point where it will start to become toxic in order to be able to safely administer it as a potential drug without associated side effects.
According to her the findings are advantageous, especially when developing a potential treatment.
“It means that you can be very harsh on the problem, in this case neuroblastoma cancer, but without being too harsh on the body,” says Lacerda.
She said that they were able to show that nano-particles can be used as a chemotherapeutic agent, because sometimes it works in the first stage of the research, but as soon as one moves into the second stage it doesn’t prove viable.
Further, it was found to be more effective, not to mention it shortened therapy time by at least half, than the current treatment for neuroblastoma, she said.
She added that there is a potential that what they are doing will be cheaper than what is available right now. “It looks very promising!” she declared.
More achievements since they started nine months ago are, a post-doc with years of experience in the area, Dr. Yuanxiang Zhou of SickKids hospital in Toronto, joining the team.
The addition will not only add credibility to the research, she said, but the fact that such an esteemed researcher like him is considering to join the team at Trent is a huge accomplishment.
Furthermore, they will soon be formalizing the role of head of Cancer Research at SickKids Hospital and the Canadian Research Chair for Cancer, Dr. David Kaplan, at Trent to strengthen the partnership with his labs.
An advantage of using nano-particles for cancer treatment is that they are more targeted, which means less side effects.
Patients potentially will not have to lose hair anymore, or lose their ability to have children, which is usually the case with regular chemotherapy, explained Lacerda.
The cancer they are focusing on is neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that the child is either born with, or presents itself by the age of ten. Chemotherapy will stunt proper growth and development, but if treated with nano-particles, they will be free of the aforementioned consequences, said Lacerda.
She is proud that the research program has secured three main research laboratories.
The first is an open lab that contains cutting edge equipment to better understand how the Medical Grade Nano-Particles kill cancer cells.
The next lab is the advanced Level Two Biohazard, where the Pre-Clinical Studies are housed to allow them to study human tumours.
The final research space is the Level Three Biohazard Laboratory. This is one of the few level three labs in Ontario, which allows them to grow cancer at a high level of containment such as what one would find at a research hospital like SickKids, she said.
The technology of the Medical Grade Nano-Particles has been further developed at the labs at Trent to now target the cancer cells even more effectively. This presents the potential for even higher efficiency of targeted treatment with Medical Grade Nano-Particles, and also the potential to treat many types of cancer other than neuroblastoma.
The cancer cells that are either at Trent or soon will be at Trent include prostate, breast, colon, lung, and cervical cancers.
This exciting new advancement of technology is patented, and increases the market for Medical Grade Nano-Particle Therapy to most types of cancer.
Currently, Andressa Lacerda, assisted by two undergraduate students, is actively involved in the research under the supervision of Dr. Craig Brunetti, a biology professor at Trent University. Dr. David Kaplan is also supervising the research.
In the meantime they are hoping to prove the results, and get published in a year’s time.