Researchers Develop Nanoparticle That Can Penetrate Blood-Brain Barrier

The scientists hope their method, which shows early promise in preclinical models, may someday target brain metastases and primary breast cancer tumors in one treatment

Researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have developed a nanoparticle that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Their goal is to kill primary breast cancer tumors and brain metastases in one treatment, and their research shows the method can shrink breast and brain tumors in laboratory studies. Brain metastases, as these secondary tumors are called, most commonly arise from solid tumors like breast, lung, and colon cancer and are often associated with a poor prognosis. When cancer breaches the brain, it can be difficult for treatment to follow, in part because of the blood-brain barrier, a near-impenetrable membrane that separates the brain from the rest of the body. The Sylvester team’s nanoparticle may one day be used to treat the metastases with the added benefit of treating the primary tumor at the same time, according to Shanta Dhar, PhD, an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Assistant Director of Technology and Innovation at Sylvester, who led the study. She is the senior author of a paper published May 6 in PNAS. The article is titledSimultaneous Targeting of Peripheral and Brain Tumors with a Therapeutic Nanoparticle to Disrupt Metabolic Adaptability at Both Sites."

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