‘Bubble’ technology could help kill tumour cells
A new technique that uses bubble technology to deliver cancer-fighting drugs has proved effective in studies.
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) used the technology on mice to deliver cancer drugs deep into tumour cells.
Microbubbles penetrate deep into tumours
Micro-sized gas bubbles are coated with cancer drug particles and iron oxide nanoparticles. Magnets use the iron oxide to direct the bubbles towards the tumour.
The microbubbles are then vibrated at high frequencies using ultrasound. This provides them with the energy needed to move the drug particles into a targeted area.
With regular chemotherapy, these drugs often flow freely through the bloodstream and can damage both healthy and cancerous cells.
While they are quickly flushed away by our bodies to reduce damage, this limits their effectiveness, as the remaining drugs cannot penetrate deep enough into the core of the tumour to kill all the cancer cells. This can lead to resurgence in tumour growth.
Lead researcher, Assistant Professor Xu Chenjie hopes by targeting the drugs, it can solve these problems.
Fewer side effects
The new system can direct the drug particles deeper into a tumour within milliseconds.
Clinical Associate Professor Chia Sing Joo, a consultant for the study, says the microbubbles could provide a less painful and more affordable treatment option.
The motivation for this research project is to find alternative solutions for drug delivery systems that are non-invasive, safe and reduce the side effects of the treatments.
The next step for the study, which took two and a half years, will be looking at using it on lung and liver cancer using animal models, and eventually clinical studies.
The team predicts it will be another eight to 10 years before it reaches human clinical trials.