Penn State researchers working with collaborators have developed a nanomaterial that can “deny” chemotherapeutics to the bloodstream, helping to reduce off-target effects. The technology is designed to be used in situations where a chemotherapeutic can be delivered accurately at the site of a tumor, and not in situations where it is administered systemically. Cellulose particles have a large number of polymer chain “hairs” protruding from each end, which increase their ability to bind drug molecules to the blood.
Chemotherapy can be incredibly difficult for patients undergoing treatment, with an extensive list of serious side effects caused by off-target toxicity to the body. Researchers are in the process of perfecting the delivery of chemotherapy by developing a series of nanoparticles and carriers of biomaterials that aim to reduce the amount of free drug that reaches the systemic circulation and maximize efficacy at the tumor site.
One of these advanced approaches is to administer chemotherapy directly to the site of a tumor through a catheter. So far, this is best suited for tumors in certain organs, such as the liver, where the drug can be released into a blood vessel that carries blood directly to the organ. However, while the drug is released near the target site, much of it still escapes into the systemic circulation and causes side effects.
This is where “cleaning” technology could play a role. This approach aims to link the free drug to the circulation, making it largely harmless. However, the current methods for achieving this are suboptimal.
“To reduce the out-of-target effects of cancer drugs during and after localized chemotherapy, it is necessary to eliminate their systemic circulation,” said Amir Sheikhi, a researcher involved in the latest study. “The platforms available and proposed to eliminate unwanted drugs, mainly the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin (DOX), from the blood are extremely ineffective, as they fail to remove enough of the drug to prevent damage. We have developed a highly efficient approach that captures DOX at a capacity more than 3,200% higher than other platforms, such as DNA-based materials. “
This new technology consists of cellulose, a key component of plant cell walls. To create the hairy crystals, the researchers chemically treated the cellulose derived from the soft wood pulp and gave it a negative charge, which means that it is more stable when it is present in the blood and also allows it to bind molecules of positively charged drugs, such as doxorubicin. To date, researchers have shown that 1 gram of particles can bind approximately 6 grams of doxorubicin to serum.
“We have found that hairy cellulose nanocrystals bind to positively charged drugs in human serum and capture DOX immediately, and do so without imposing any cytotoxicity or hemolytic effects,” Sheikhi said. “We anticipate that this effective, non-toxic nanoparticle could be a staple for the next generation of devices to capture excess drugs and remove unwanted molecules from the body, such as psychedelics and toxins.”
Study a Materials Today Chemistry: Hairy cellulose nanocrystals engineering for chemotherapy drug capture
Via: Penn State