A new breakthrough in cancer diagnosis will now help in the identification and treatment of malignant tumours.
For the first time ever, scientists have shown that a hybrid nanomaterial based on magnetite-gold particles can serve as a universal platform to both detect cancer cells anywhere in the body and to complete targeted deliveries of drugs to these cells.
Made by an interdisciplinary Russian-German collaboration of chemists, physicists, and biologists from NUST MISIS, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (RNRMU), and the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), this platform will kill cancer cells.
The discovery makes it possible to create and implement a completely new generation of cancer treatments in the coming years.
The results of this fundamental research conducted at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine have been published in Scientific Reports, one of the most prestigious scientific journals.
If these pathogenic cells are tagged with magnetic nanoparticles, they can be diagnosed with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and subsequently destroyed by either a drug or a magnetic field that heats and kills cancer cells.
One of the project participants, Maxim Abakumov, said, "We have managed to combine gold (Au) and magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles into a hybrid that has both magnetic properties and is capable of carrying the drug [to a tumor]. It turned out as a kind of 'nanodumbbell' which could become a platform -- a universal base -- of future theranostics, and we have shown that in our research."
This manmade nanohybrid has been tested both in vitro and in vivo. Laboratory tests on mice with grafted tumors have already been completed.
It is possible to place almost any drug (in place of doxorubicin) into the "nanodumbbell", and this makes this hybrid an ideal platform to detect tumour cells and deliver drugs; previously proposed methods were only suitable for certain types of drugs and only worked on certain types of cancer cells.
According to researchers, it will be possible to proceed to pre-clinical trials in just two to three years time, as there is a few years' of work remaining to be completed before clinical trials on real patients. However, the concept of theranostics has still not been applied in clinical practice anywhere in the world, although Russian scientists are on the front lines of this area.
Such versatility allows hope for the emergence of a new generation of treatments for malignant tumors in the coming years.
The full findings are present in the journal- Scientific Reports.