Researchers have developed a new drug delivery system that allows inhalation of chemotherapeutic drugs to help treat lung cancer, and in laboratory and animal tests it appears to reduce the systemic damage done to other organs while significantly improving the treatment of lung tumors.
This advance in nanomedicine combines the extraordinarily small size of nanoparticles, existing cancer drugs, and small interfering RNA (siRNA) that shut down the ability of cancer cells to resist attack.
The combination of these forces resulted in the virtual disappearance of lung tumors in experimental animals.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women. Despite advances in surgery, chemotherapy still plays a major role in its treatment. However, that treatment is constrained by the toxic effects of some drugs needed to combat it and the difficulty of actually getting those drugs into the lungs.
The findings were made by Oleh Taratula at Oregon State University and Tamara Minko and O. Garbuzenko at Rutgers University and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. They were just published in the Journal of Controlled Release.
"Lung cancer damage is usually not localized, which makes chemotherapy an important part of treatment," said Taratula, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and co-author on this study. "However, the drugs used are toxic and can cause organ damage and severe side effects if given conventionally through intravenous administration.
"A drug delivery system that can be inhaled is a much more efficient approach, targeting just the cancer cells as much as possible," he said. "Other chemotherapeutic approaches only tend to suppress tumors, but this system appears to eliminate it."
A patent is being applied for on the technology, and more testing will be necessary before it is ready for human clinical trials, the researchers said.