During chemotherapy, it is not uncommon for a tumor to become resistant to treatment over time. This fact has proven to be a major obstacle in cancer treatment and, with few alternatives for treatment, patients with chemo-resistant cancer often experience limited timeframes for survival.
In an effort to reduce a cancer’s ability to resist chemotherapy medicines, a team of scientists in Australia has developed a new therapy that serves as a “Trojan horse” on the microscopic level.
The new method uses nanotechnology to breach cancer resistant cells and destroy them. To accomplish this, a bacterially-derived nano cell first infiltrates the cell. Once inside, the nano cell releases ribonucleic acid molecules (siRNA), a chemical which hinders the production of chemo-resistant proteins. Then, a second nano cell utilizes chemotherapy to kill the cell.
The method has proven remarkably promising in clinical trials, with the Australian team reporting a 100-percent survival rate in mice with human cancer cells.
The nanotechnology has been likened to a Trojan horse because the initial nano cells are masked so that the cancer cell willingly allows it to enter inside. Just as important, the technology only breaches and kills cancer cells. This is an improvement over traditional chemotherapy drugs, which can attack both cancer cells and normal healthy cells.
The team hopes that the treatment will one day be used to transform cancer from a deadly disease to a manageable, chronic illness. Human clinical trials for the method began in early July at the Peter MacCullum Cancer Center at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Austin at the University of Melbourne.