The latest cancer targeting nanoparticles being developed in labs around the world are getting ever more complex and are utilizing multiple mechanisms to find and strike their targets. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just published an article in Nature Communications describing a nanoparticle that delivers its killer payload only when inside cells by homing in on ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
ATP is the famous energy molecule that powers the activity inside of cells, and the new nanoparticle carries DNA strands bound to doxorubicin, an anti-cancer drug, than unfold when high levels of ATP are present. The nanoparticles themselves have a layer of hyaluronic acid (HA) that attracts some types of cancer cells, allowing the nanoparticles to enter and open up, releasing the folded DNA strands.
From study abstract in Nature Communications:
The half-maximal inhibitory concentration of ATP-responsive nanovehicles is 0.24 μM in MDA-MB-231 cells, a 3.6-fold increase in the cytotoxicity compared with that of non-ATP-responsive nanovehicles. Equipped with an outer shell crosslinked by hyaluronic acid, a specific tumour-targeting ligand, the ATP-responsive nanocarriers present an improvement in the chemotherapeutic inhibition of tumour growth using xenograft MDA-MB-231 tumour-bearing mice. This ATP-triggered drug release system provides a more sophisticated drug delivery system, which can differentiate ATP levels to facilitate the selective release of drugs.
Article in Nature Communications: ATP-triggered anticancer drug delivery