Gold Nanoparticle Delivery of Mesothelioma Drugs Shows Significant Advantage

A new study conducted by Italian researchers may represent a breakthrough in achieving more effective delivery of mesothelioma treatment drugs. In a study published this week in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, scientists explored identifying a target on the surface of malignant pleural mesothelioma cells and then programming gold nanoparticles loaded with the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed to seek those targets out. They found that the innovative drug delivery system was significantly more effective than administering pemetrexed alone: the nanoparticles were selectively taken up within one hour of delivery, effectively blocking the malignant cell lines from replicating and impacting both cell viability and ability to move.  They also found that cell death was significantly increased when the gold nanoparticles were used.

Italian Researchers Explore Use of Innovative Drug Delivery System

Writing on the challenges that malignant mesothelioma presents for treatment, researchers from the Clinic of Lung Diseases, IRCCS Foundation Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia, Italy, the Department of Biotechnology and Bioscience at the University of Milano in Bicocca, Milan, Italy, the National Council of Research, Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular Physiology in Segrate in Milan, Italy and the Laboratory of Biotechnology, Research Center of Rigenerative Medicine address the toxic side effects that current chemotherapy delivery still holds, preventing the increased dosage that the disease’s recalcitrant tumors demand. The group’s search for a novel delivery strategy that wold permit increased dosage led them to gold nanoparticles, which they say have “unique size-dependent electronic and optical properties, biocompatibility, and the possibility of customization.” The group’s previous work with gold nano carriers led them to believe that they would be an effective therapeutic option for mesothelioma treatment, and so they identified CD146, a protein expressed by the diseases as a target suitable for nanoparticle functionalization. They loaded the nanoparticles with pemetrexed and treated mesothelioma cell lines in the lab, studying its impact on cell uptake, cell viability, cell death, cell cycle, reactive oxygen species, colony forming capacity and wound healing. They also compared those factors to cells that were dosed with pemetrexed via traditional methods.

Gold Nanoparticles Provide Significant Improvement in Impacting Tumor Cells

The study found that the targeted nanoparticles significantly impaired the mesothelioma cells, particularly when compared to the response to pemetrexed alone. Though cell motility between the two treatments was roughly the same, “only drug-loaded nanoparticles were able to completely inhibit the capacity to form colonies,” an ability that the scientists call “the hallmark of malignancy.”  The scientists conclude, “On the basis of these preliminary results, we believe that nanoparticles represent a promising approach for the development of a highly effective local treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma because they allow us to directly address malignant cells and deliver high level of drugs over a sustained period of time, while sparing normal cells.”

This groundbreaking discovery will likely be explored internationally, with clinical studies on humans to be held in the not-too-distant future. If you are a mesothelioma patient and you would like information on other treatment approaches that are currently available, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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