In a first of its kind research, a new technique extracting the platelet membranes from the patient’s own platelets has been developed; a technique that coats anti cancer drugs. In other words, the extracted membranes will be used to mix with the formula of the anti cancer drugs, and then placed in a solution containing the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox).
As the researchers says this process will allow the drugs to have a longer affect of the cancerous cells and the body, while attacking both primary tumours and the circulating tumour cells that can cause cancer to spread.
Scientifically, the surface of cancer cells has an affinity for platelets — they stick to each other.
“Also, because the platelets come from the patient’s own body, the drug carriers are not identified as foreign objects so these last longer in the bloodstream,” explained Zhen Gu, assistant professor at North Carolina State University.
Here is how the process works.
Blood is taken from a patient — a mouse in this case — and the platelets are collected from that blood.
The isolated platelets are treated to extract the platelet membranes, which are then placed in a solution containing the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox).
The solution is compressed to create nanoscale spheres made up of platelet membranes with the drug.
These spheres are then treated so that their surfaces are coated with another effective anti-cancer drug named “TRAIL”.
“When released into a patient’s bloodstream, these pseudo-platelets can circulate for up to 30 hours — as compared to approximately six hours for the nanoscale vehicles without the coating,” the authors noted.
In mice, the researchers found that using the pseudo-platelet drug delivery system was significantly more effective against large tumours and circulating tumour cells.
“This combination of features means that the drugs can not only attack the main tumour site, but are more likely to find and attach themselves to tumour cells circulating in the bloodstream – essentially attacking new tumours before they start,” said Quanyin Hu, a PhD student in the joint biomedical engineering programme.
“We think the technology can be used to deliver other drugs such as those targeting cardiovascular disease,” the authors concluded.
The study was published in the journal Advanced Materials.