Copolymerised nanoparticles to target breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most widely studied cancers in science today, but thousands of women still die from the disease every year in the UK alone. There is an urgent need to develop new therapies and treatments to further lower the mortality rate. This paper from Laiqiang Huang and colleagues from Tsinghua University, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Dailan Medical University and the China Department of Materials Science and Engineering presents a new chemotherapeutic agent based on nanotechnology.

The size and characteristics of nanoparticles allow them to be used for passive and active drug targeting in the body and are able to penetrate tumours to deliver their drugs. The use of nanoparticles also mean that drug localisation and release can be tightly controlled. They can be made using  biodegradable aliphatic polymers such as poly(e-caprolactone) (PCL) and polyglycolide (PGA). These compounds have recently been brought to the fore of research into drug delivery systems as their properties of permeability and biocompatibility make them good candidates for drug delivery. However, none of these polymers have yet been optimised for use in drug therapies.

By producing a copolymer of PCL, PGA and D-a-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) – a vitamin E derivative which increases solubility – the authors could produce nanoparticles loaded with the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel. These nanoparticles were shown to be more toxic to tumour cells than another commercially available chemotherapeutic drug both in vitro and in vivo.

This article features on the front cover of Issue 10 and is free to access for 6 weeks. To find out more, download the article here:

Nanoformulation of D-α-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate-b-poly(ε-caprolactone-ran-glycolide) diblock copolymer for breast cancer therapy
Laiqiang Huang, Hongbo Chen, Yi Zheng, Xiaosong Song, Ranyi Liu, Kexin Liu, Xiaowei Zeng and Lin Mei
Integr. Biol., 2011, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C1IB00026H

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