September 13, 2013

Cancer nanomedicines on target

Therapeutic nanoparticles may offer a powerful new way to image and treat cancer at the same time.


Therapeutic nanoparticles – particles that can serve as both imaging probes and therapeutic agents – offer advantages over traditional cancer chemotherapeutics, but the delivery of these particles to tumor tissues is a major challenge.

To address this challenge, Reed Omary, M.D., M.S., Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and Chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and colleagues adapted the therapeutic techniques of interventional radiology to nanoparticle delivery. Interventional radiology includes minimally invasive image-guided procedures to ablate (heat or freeze) tumor tissue or to deliver therapies directly into a tumor’s blood supply.

The investigators tested the delivery of DOX-SPIOs – nanoparticles that can be imaged by MRI and that carry the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin – to tumor tissues in animal models. They demonstrated that image-guided local delivery techniques resulted in increased DOX-SPIO uptake by tumors – and limited off-target delivery to healthy tissues – compared to standard intravenous administration.

The techniques, described in the journal ACS Nano, can be extended to any nanoparticle platform and should be useful for targeting any solid organ tumors that are accessible to image-guided interventions.

This research was supported by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA159178, CA141047).