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Nanotechnology Researchers at Northwestern University Revolutionize Drug Delivery with Advanced Nanomaterials
22 Oct, 2007 10:09 am
Nanodiamonds, a revolutionary class of nanomaterials, are 2 nanometers in diameter in single-particle form, and can be manipulated to form clusters with diameters in the 50-100nm range. This makes them ideal for drug delivery by shielding and slow releasing drugs trapped within the cluster of Diamond aggregates. Writing in the peer-reviewed journal, Nano Letters, I, along with postodoctoral researchers Houjin Huang (lead author), and Erik Pierstorff of Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, USA), as well as Dr. Eiji Osawa of the NanoCarbon Research Institute (Chiba, Japan) have recently applied Nanodiamonds towards the highly efficient delivery of cancer drugs.
Other advantages of the Nanodiamonds include the fact that they are very easily dissolved in water for rapid translation to clinical applications, which is virtually unrealized by many of the current therapeutic nanomaterials. The rapid or uncontrollable release of cancer drugs often leads to patient complications, or even patient mortality because the drugs display a ‘generalized’ or ‘systemic’ form of activity by killing both the cancerous and healthy cells. As such, the aforementioned engineered trapping/slow-release function of the Nanodiamonds will play a significant role in improving treatment efficiency by limiting the uncontrolled exposure of the drug to the body by both shielding the drug within the Nanodiamond clusters while also gradually releasing the drug towards the cells. Furthermore, the diamonds were capable of rapidly crossing cell membranes to further reduce non-specific cellular exposure and enhance therapeutic efficacy. These integrated Nanodiamond systems were also capable of empowering potent chemotherapy across multiple cell lines that were tested, including human colon cancer cells.
By harnessing the innately ordered form factor/shape of the Nanodiamonds, we have realized a key advantage of this technology by enabling a highly favorable material interaction with the cells upon which the Nanodiamonds are acting that is vital for optimized treatment. More specifically, this study took on a clinically relevant approach by examining the residual effects, if any, of the Nanodiamonds upon the cells after the drug was released and the bare diamonds were still present. We found that Nanodiamonds do not elicit an inflammatory response from cells as demonstrated by the absence of increased inflammatory gene expression. This finding was particularly significant in that increases in inflammation, previously observed with several other nanomaterials, have been shown to actually promote the spread of tumors, pre-dispose a patient to the onset of cancer, and even inhibit/cancel the activity of the cancer drug that was originally delivered. Therefore, the work presented in this paper represented a significant advancement over several current nanotechnology-enabled methodologies for cancer drug therapy. As such, Nanodiamonds may find rapid clinical applications due to the aforementioned advantages towards the improvement of patient treatment efficacy while reducing complications.
We are currently exploring the application of the Chemotherapeutic Nanodiamonds towards pre-clinical/animal models, and have already formed a number of collaborations with some of the world’s most respected cancer biologists and clinicians.
This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease).
Huang, Pierstorff, Osawa, and Ho, “Active Nanodiamond Hydrogels for Chemotherapeutic Delivery,” Nano Letters . Epub ahead of print, Oct 5th, 2007.