A team from Sichuan University in China employed chitosan as a skeleton to construct a new pro-drug of doxorubicin (a common anticancer drug). Chitosan is a good support material for drug delivery thanks to its biocompatibility and biodegradability as well as its interaction with cell membranes.

Self-assembly

The pro-drug can self-assemble into nanoparticles with a hydrodynamic size less than 200 nm, which are fast internalized by the cancer cells. Controlling the doxorubicin content of the pro-drug means that the researchers can modulate its drug-release behaviour. The drug is mainly released inside the cells by exploiting the signal of a slight pH variation existing in the different cellular compartments. Compared with a free drug, the pro-drug nanoparticles show a close treatment efficacy, which indicates their potential application in targeted cancer therapy.

More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology 25 255101.

Further reading

Nanoparticle superstructures break down in the body (Feb 2014)
Doxorubicin-loaded micelles increase drug activity and lower systemic toxicity (Mar 2011)
Carbon nanotube-based polyoxometalates deliver (Mar 2009)