New Delhi: Indian scientists have come up with an innovative mode of cancer treatment using nano particles, under which the anti-cancer drug will directly target tumour cells without harming the healthy cells of the body.

Scientists at the Department of Science and Technology have fabricated highly biocompatible porous polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) nanoparticles as a versatile vehicle to deliver anti-cancer drugs to the nuclei of tumour cells without utilizing any intrinsic ligands (ions or molecules). The nucleus of any cell contains the majority of its genetic material.

Anti-cancer drugs can be delivered to the nuclei of cells either in a free drug form, or via nano-vehicles-based delivery systems. Targeting the drugs directly to the required cellular compartments like nuclei reduces their non-specific interactions with other cell components which can limit their efficiency and cause side effects, scientists said.

The research trials for prostrate cancer in mice have shown promising results.

“We experimented with ligand-free, enhanced intra-nuclear delivery of Doxorubicin (Dox), an anti cancer drug, to different cancer cells via porous PDMS nano-particles. Dox was loaded into the pores of PDMS nano-particles. These Dox-loaded PDMS nano-particles showed enhanced cytotoxicity (the quality of being toxic to cancerous cells) in comparison to free Dox," said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science and Technology. Sharma is also a part of the research team.

The research originally done at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, showed that PDMS-Dox delivery system shows efficient and enhanced transportation of Dox to tumour cells which can be harnessed to develop advanced chemotherapy-based approaches to treat prostate and other cancers.

“Further, it was also found that DNA damage of the cancerous cells was more through nano particles in comparison to free Dox. The therapeutic efficiency of PDMS-Dox drug delivery system was tested in prostate cancer in mice which showed enhanced tumour reduction (66%) as compared to free Dox," Sharma said.

The delivery of anti-cancer drugs directly to the nuclei of tumour cells can greatly enhance their therapeutic efficacy because the nucleus is the master regulator of numerous oncogenic hallmarks such as cell proliferation and apoptosis (the normal death of cells during growth).

In addition to these, the nucleus is also responsible for the transcriptional regulation of oncogenes (cancerous genes) or tumour suppressor genes. Tumour suppressor gene is the one that protects a cell from one step on the path to cancer. When this gene mutates to cause a loss or reduction in its function, the cell can progress to cancer, usually in combination with other genetic changes.