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Therapeutic nanoplatform targeted to bone metastatic cancers

Investigators: Fabien Pinaud, Ph.D.; Mitchell Gross, M.D., Ph.D.; Charles McKenna, Ph.D.
Innovation: combining drugs that prevent bone loss with gold nanoparticles to treat metastatic bone cancer
Clinical significance: enhancing the chance of survival for patients with few current options

Investigators: Fabien Pinaud, Ph.D.; Mitchell Gross, M.D., Ph.D.; Charles McKenna, Ph.D.
Innovation: combining drugs that prevent bone loss with gold nanoparticles to treat metastatic bone cancer
Clinical significance: enhancing the chance of survival for patients with few current options

A common and feared complication of many solid tumors is metastasization to the bone, which can lead to fractures, agonizing pain, spinal instability and decreased mobility. While surgery or radiation therapy can provide relief, such treatments are mainly palliative. Meanwhile, chemotherapy and hormone therapy can help reduce tumor size but generally fail to eliminate the risk of recurrence.

Bisphosphonates (BPs) — a class of drugs that help prevent the loss of bone mass for conditions such as osteoporosis — have an affinity for reaching areas
of the bone where metastatic cells are active but are, by themselves, poor anticancer agents. Combining BPs with gold nanoparticles holds potential for a novel therapy for metastatic bone cancer, allowing the efficient delivery of various macromolecules — such as DNA, proteins and chemicals — to pathogenic cells. This makes them excellent platforms for deep tissue penetration, specific tumor cell targeting and delivery of tumor-halting agents in vivo.

This project focuses on engineering a compound that will specifically home in on and deliver cancer-killing drugs to tumors at bone metastatic niches, while blocking further malignant cell invasion at these sites, providing new hope for patients.