Jun 2, 2014
Chitosan provides skeleton for anticancer pro-drug
Cancer may be the leading cause of human death in developed and developing countries. Nevertheless, most widely used anticancer drugs – despite their positive pharmacological effects in cancer therapy – are limited in clinical applications. This is due to their poor water solubility, rapid blood clearance and the severe side effects for healthy tissues. To deal with the serious threat of cancer, the development of a smart nanoscale drug-delivery system and the realization of a high drug bioavailability are becoming more important. Reporting in Nanotechnology, researchers synthesize a novel pro-drug to achieve this.
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.
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.
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)
About the author
Fei Song is an associate professor at the National Engineering Laboratory for Eco-Friendly Polymeric Materials, Sichuan University in China. The current interests of his research group are colloid science, biomaterials and biomass-based materials.