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Smart Nanofiber Therapy Effective in Fighting Cancer

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 23 Jul 2013
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Japanese scientists reported that integrating magnetic nanoparticles with an anticancer agent into crosslinked polymer nanofibers offers a twofold treatment for cancer therapy with lessened side effects.

Stimuli-responsive or “smart” polymeric nanofibers have spurred increasing interest. The nanoscale structures give rise to high sensitivity to stimuli while they can also be manipulated easily as macroscopic materials. Researchers from the Materials and Science Engineering Graduate School of Pure and Applied Science of the University of Tsukuba (Tsukuba, Japan) and the National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS; Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan) now have revealed how they can be used to utilize magnetic nanoparticles to enhance hyperthermal effects for treating cancer while avoiding the typical side-effects. The incorporation of doxorubicin in the nanofibers as well allows controlled release of the anticancer drug as a further mechanism for killing cancer cells.

Magnetic nanoparticles can kill cancer cells through the heat generated by induction when subjected to an alternating magnetic field. Such hyperthermal treatments have also been shown to improve the effectiveness of anticancer drugs. However, the nanoparticles can also lead to impaired mitochondrial function, inflammation, and DNA damage. Incorporating the nanoparticles into nanofibers may provide a better approach.

Drs. Young-Jin Kim, Mitsuhiro Ebara, and Takao Aoyagi electro-spun the fibers from a solution of the polymer poly(NIPAAm-co-HMAAm) mixed with a solution of magnetic nanoparticles and doxorubicin. The heating caused by the nanoparticles when switching on an alternating magnetic field caused hyperthermal effects, as well as reversible decreased swelling and deformation of the fibers, which released the drug molecules. In vitro and cell line research was shown to effectively destroy the cancer cells, which was greatly reduced for hyperthermal treatments alone in the absence of doxorubicin.

“The doxorubicin/magnetic-nanoparticles nanofiber induced the apoptosis of cancer cells due to a synergistic effect of chemotherapy and hyperthermia,” reported the authors, who published their findings online June 14, 2013, in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. The study demonstrates how smart nanofibers have potential for use as a manipulative material that combines hyperthermia and drug release treatments that can be controlled with the simple switching on or off of an alternating magnetic field.

Related Links:

University of Tsukuba
National Institute of Materials Science

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