New nanotheranostic platform packs a three-in-one punch

(Nanowerk News) A collaboration between The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University has developed the first three-in-one cancer therapy to be successfully tested in mice. A combination of three modes of therapy—photodynamic therapy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy—integrated into a single platform, it is hoped that this treatment would increase treatment efficacy and reduce side effects for cancer patients.

"Single chemotherapy alone usually fails to achieve the satisfactory therapeutic efficacy and may otherwise impose much pain on patients”, says Professor Bu Wenbo, one of the corresponding authors of the work published in the journal Biomaterials ("A smart upconversion-based mesoporous silica nanotheranostic system for synergetic chemo-/radio-/photodynamic therapy and simultaneous MR/UCL imaging").

Combining current modes of treatment could create a synergistic effect, enhancing the effectiveness of cancer treatment. However, integrating these individual therapeutics into a single system while maximizing their synergistic therapeutic effects still remains a big challenge.

To address this challenge, Prof. Bu and his team created a composite structure where a single rare-earth-doped upconversion nanoparticle resides in a cavity surrounded by a shell of silica with extremely fine pores. The whole structure is smaller than 80 nm and was shown to be biocompatible.

The silica shell was grafted with hematoporphyrin, a radio- and photo-sensitizer; while the cavity was loaded with docetaxel, a known chemotherapy and radiosensitizer drug. Meanwhile, the inner nanoparticle aided in photodynamic therapy, while at the same time enabling the real-time imaging of the particles in the body under bimodal imaging.
Since the position of the tumor could be determined through the particle’s bimodal imaging, the three-in-one therapy is part of the growing trend in simultaneous therapeutic and diagnostic platforms, also known as nanotheranostic platforms, where tumors are treated as they are detected.
The researchers found that a single administration of particles injected into the tumor site accompanied by near-infrared and X-ray irradiation was sufficient to completely eradicate the tumor by the third day after treatment. But when the particles were administered via intravenous injection instead, a higher dose was needed in order to achieve the same result, highlighting the need for more targeting efficiency of the particles to the tumor site.
Regarding the hope that he has with this platform for cancer treatment, Prof. Bu states that this may “fulfil the one-drug-fits-all dream”.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences
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