An international cancer research team has developed a new type of copper-based nanoparticles that can kill tumor cells in mice. Although the technique alone has shown efficacy, by combining with immunotherapy, scientists say it has a long-lasting effect that can quickly kill any cancer cells that relapse.
The therapy focuses on new knowledge about the “disgusting” nature of tumors to certain types of nanoparticles. A team of scientists from the University of Leuven, the University of Bremen, the Leibniz School of Materials Engineering and the University of Ioannina found that tumor cells were particularly sensitive to nanoparticles made of copper and oxygen.
Once these copper oxide nanoparticles enter the organism, they dissolve and become toxic, killing the cancer cells in them. The key to the new nanoparticle design is the addition of iron oxide. This allows it to kill cancer cells while maintaining healthy cell integrity, the researchers say.
In experiments using nanoparticles to kill tumor cells in mice, scientists found that their effects were short-lived and that the cancer would soon return, which they expected. To solve this problem, the team combined treatment with immunotherapy to fight cancer using the body’s own immune system. They then observed some very impressive results.
Combined therapies not only make the tumor completely disappear, but also prove to be effective in preventing the tumor from developing. After treating lung cancer and colon cancer in animal models, the researchers injected more tumor cells into mice and found that they were quickly killed. The researchers say it appears that the immune system is on high alert, ready to identify and eliminate any invasive and threatening similar alien cells.
“As far as I know, this is the first time that metal oxides have been used in living models to effectively fight cancer cells and have a long-lasting immune effect,” explains Stefaan Soenen, a professor at the University of Leuven. This will form a comprehensive database. “
In their study, the scientists used common cancer cells derived from the p53 gene. This means the technology can be used to treat about 60% of all cancers, including common types such as lung, breast, ovarian and colon cancer.
The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.