Great blog post from former FEI employee and current VP of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Dan Zenka, on the impact of nano-enabling technologies in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

Promise of Nanomedicine Advances

Highly-targeted nanomedicine for prostate cancer shows promising results that can revolutionize patient treatment.

Phase I trials of targeted nanoparticles carrying docetaxel show that these “Trojan horses” can deliver up to 10 times more docetaxel directly into cancerous cells while sparing healthy cells from the side effects of chemotherapy.

Several years ago, before my life with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, I worked with a leading company whose powerful scanning and transmission electron microscopes were opening the door to exploration and development on the nanoscale. Back then, I spoke avidly of once unimaginable advances in nano-enabled materials, nano-enabled electronics and nano-enabled life science.

Even then, I could appreciate what these advances were already yielding for my life in terms of such things as better paint finishes for my car, and faster performing and higher memory capacity components for my cell phone and desktop computer. But, just as I couldn’t have guessed I would one day become a patient with advanced prostate cancer, I couldn’t have imagined that the nano-enabled advances in biotech would one day yield something that would vastly improve my treatment if I become treatment resistant and the “wet blanket” of androgen deprivation therapy is no longer effective.

Today, scientists at the AACR meeting in Chicago released very promising results from a Phase I clinical trial using targeted nanoparticles filled with docetaxel, a chemotherapy agent that is effective in metastatic prostate cancer alone. It is currently delivered via infusions that floods the body and affects both cancerous and healthy cells, causing significant side effects at doses needed to improve patient survival. Using PSMA-targeted nanoparticles to deliver docetaxel, normal healthy cells are widely spared from undesirable side effects. Further, once these nanoscale “Trojan horses” identify their final destinations, they work directly into cancer cells releasing up to 10 times more docetaxel than is  delivered using current infusion methods. The idea to use targeted nanoparticles to deliver therapeutics was first conceived in 2002 and advanced rapidly by collaboration between PCF-supported teams at four cancer research centers.

There is also an added benefit to this research: other cancers also express PSMA, what I call the “sticky tape” that attracts these therapeutic-laden nanoparticles. With these findings, multiple Phase I and II trials targeting other cancers can be accelerated.

Of course, I remain optimistic that I will achieve my 40 percent chance of being declared “cancer-free” in a little more than three years from now. But, as a patient who is well aware of where this journey might one day take me, I find today’s news especially encouraging for me and so many others. It’s a big “score” for both patients and for the world’s nano-enablers and scientists.

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