Researchers have developed a targeted therapy that stops the growth of liver cancer cells in immune-deficient mice1.
Liver cancer is the most aggressive form of the disease, responds poorly to drugs and can spread to other vital organs such as the lungs.
To develop an effective targeted therapy, scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in Mumbai synthesised polymeric nanocomplexes to which they attached cetuximab, an anticancer drug. The cetuximab enabled the nanocomplexes to target liver cancer cells by binding to a specific cell-surface receptor.
Next the team prepared two types of nanocomplexes – one loaded with combretastatin A-4, a drug which destroys cellular architecture and blood vessels, and the other with 2-methoxyestradiol, which prevents new blood vessels forming.
The researchers, led by Radhika Poojari, injected mice with a combination of the nanocomplexes twice a week for three weeks. This treatment inhibited blood vessel generation around the cancer cells, and destroyed them more efficiently than non-targeted nanocomplexes and free anticancer drugs.
The treated mice did not lose weight or show symptoms of pathological damage, suggesting the therapy was non-toxic. The targeted nanocomplexes also remained in the blood for a longer period than the free drug combinatorial counterpart, releasing the anticancer drugs inside the tumours at a high, effective concentration.
The researchers say the nanocomplexes also prevented the liver cancer cells from spreading to the lungs.