Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) are working on a new way to treat drug-resistant leukemias that the ancient Greeks would approve of--only it's not a Trojan horse, but DNA that hides the invading force. In this case, the invading force is a common cancer drug, daunorubicin. In laboratory tests, leukemia cells that had become resistant to the drug absorbed it and died when the drug was hidden in a capsule made of folded up DNA. Previously, other research groups have used the same packaging technique, known as "DNA Origami," to foil drug resistance in solid tumors. This is the first time researchers have shown that the same technique works on drug-resistant leukemia cells. The researchers have since begun testing the capsule in mice, and hope to move on to human cancer trials within a few years. Their early results were published online on November 19, 2015 in the journal Small. The article is titled “Daunorubicin-Loaded DNA Origami Nanostructures Circumvent Drug-Resistance Mechanisms in a Leukemia Model.” The study involved a pre-clinical model of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that has developed resistance against the drug daunorubicin. Specifically, when molecules of daunorubicin enter an AML cell, the cell recognizes them and pumps the drug molecules back out through openings in the cell membrane. It's a mechanism of resistance that study co-author John Byrd, M.D., of the OSU Wexner Medical Center compared to sump pumps that draw water from a basement. He and Carlos Castro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, lead a collaboration focused on hiding daunorubicin inside a kind of molecular Trojan horse that can bypass the pumps so the drug will not be ejected from the cell.
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