A new medical study shows how nano-particles might be used to fight lung cancer. According to the WHO, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide - accounting for 1.59 million deaths in 2012.
Nano-particles are very small particles whose dimensions are on a par with atoms and molecules. At this scale, matter can be manipulated in ways not seen before. The study describes how scientists developed nano-carriers that can release chemotherapy drugs selectively at tumor sites without affecting tumor-free areas.
The study shows how the nano-carrier approach was able to deliver current cancer medicines for treating lung tumors more effectively than conventional methods.
Treatment of lung cancer depends on how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. In the new study, scientists gave the nano-particles a protective shell that resists attack from the weak concentrations of proteases found in healthy tissue.
But when these nanoparticles enter a tumor, the higher concentration of proteases present in tumor cells breaks down the shell. Such a feature makes the nanoparticles ideal carriers of drugs that could be released precisely inside tumors.
The team observed that the drug's effectiveness in the tumor tissue was 10 to 25 times greater compared to when the drugs were used on their own. The nanocarrier method would allow the use of much lower doses of anticancer drugs, which in turn would also reduce undesirable side effects.