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Age-old drug facilitates new age medication
November 26, 2017, 2:25 pm

A new study shows that Chloroquine, a drug invented in the 1940s to prevent and treat malaria, can block immune cells in the liver so nanoparticles can arrive at their intended tumor site, overcoming a significant hurdle of targeted drug delivery.

Many cancer patients do not respond to chemotherapies because the drugs never reach the targeted cancer cells. Even new methods for delivering drugs to a tumor, such as through nanoparticles, only about one percent of a dose will successfully arrive at the intended tumor site, while the rest are filtered out by the immune cells of the liver and spleen.

Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute in the US have now found that using chloroquine not only increased the circulation of nanoparticles in the body, but also reduced the body's filtration of nanoparticles, as well as improved drug delivery to breast tumors.

Chloroquine was found to interfere with immune cells called macrophages, which are used by the body to identify microscopic foreign objects and destroy them.

In this study, mice models received injections of chloroquine, followed by an injection of nanoparticles. Chloroquine decreased the macrophages' ability to clean up the nanoparticles. The findings are significant, because the nanoparticles not only remained in circulation, but also accumulated in mouse tumors, as well as in the lungs of healthy mice, suggesting that the approach also may enhance treatment for lung diseases.



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