Published on June 15, 2008 at 5:05 AM
Using nanoparticles made from pieces of tumor cells, investigators from Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, have developed a new type of anticancer agent that appears to stop tumor cell growth and proliferation.
This research, led by Dominique Lombardo, Ph.D., and Alain Verine, Ph.D., presents the first evidence that tumor-derived nanoparticles can trigger tumor cell death.
Reporting its work in the FASEB Journal, the investigators began their study by harvesting pieces of tumor cell membrane that bud off from pancreatic cancer cells. These exosomes resemble lipid-based nanoparticles known as liposomes, but the exosomes are loaded with various tumor cell membrane proteins. After purifying the nanoparticles, the researchers administered them to tumor cells, triggering cell death at a level proportional to the amount of nanoparticles added to the cells. The nanoparticles had no effect when added to normal cells.
Further study showed that the nanoparticles were triggering apoptosis, but not via the pathway triggered by most anticancer drugs. The exact mechanism by which the nanoparticles exert their cell-killing activity is still unknown.
This work is detailed in the paper "Human Tumor Nanoparticles Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Cancer Cells." An abstract of this paper is available at the journal's Web site. View abstract