The tiny drug-toting robots known as nanoparticles may represent a life-changing event in the battle against a variety of types of cancer, says a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based bio-science firm after completing a Phase I clinical trial which showed that the particles can effectively attack cancer cells while leaving healthy ones intact.
According to an article in the Boston Herald, doctors and researchers believe the millions and millions of dollars spent on nanotechnology is starting to pay off for the medical community, and experts in the field of cancer lauded this latest announcement, which appeared in the most recent edition of Science Transitional Medicine.
“It’s almost like a totally new kind of pharmaceutical,” said MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer, who is the co-founder of BIND Biosciences, the firm that invented BIND-014, the drug now under review.
Langer, along with his partner Dr. Omid Farokhzad, director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, compare the nanoparticles to little robots that are armed with a GPS system that makes them able to navigate through the body and find the killer cancer cells. After they deliver their medicine, Farokhzad explains, they self-destruct and leave behind only particles that are safe for the human body.
This particular clinical trial involved 17 individuals with metastatic cancer. Each had already gone through one or more rounds of traditional chemotherapy. The participants were given nanoparticles laced with the popular chemo drug, docetaxel, most often used to treat breast, lung, and prostate cancer. In many cases, the tumors shrank, even when patients received a lower dose than normal, the study reports.
“What this technology does, for the first time, is allow an administered dose of a drug to concentrate in cancers,” Langer said. “Previously, it was not possible for drugs to accumulate in cancers in a pre-programmed and deliberate way.”
Future clinical trials are planned for larger groups of participants, says Langer.