Nanoparticles to battle cancer

A nanoparticle drug delivery system is showing promising tumour selectivity in a new cell culture model created by researchers at NottinghamUniversity.

The system, designed specifically for treating brain tumours, showed greater up take of the particles in cultures with tumour cells than those without.

The particles, prepared from a new biodegradable polymer, poly(glycerol adipate), could improve treatment currently hampered by problems with delivery and selectivity of drug action.

The system was tested using a new culture method which combined the existing techniques of taking thin brain slices from newborn rats and aggregates of tumour cells, creating a 3D culture model. The selective uptake was only seen in the 3D models, highlighting the need for complex, representative models.

‘The interaction of tumour cells with brain cells varies between different tumours and different locations within the brain,’ Dr Terence Parker, associate professor in the school of biomedical sciences, said. ‘Using 3D culture models is therefore important in ensuring that the behaviour of cells in culture is similar to that seen in real life.’

Brain tumour aggregates, marked with fluorescent iron microparticles, were grown on normal newborn rat brain slices. This allowed the researchers to investigate cell invasion using fluorescence or electron microscopy.

The model was then used to demonstrate the increased uptake of the nanoparticles.