15 January 2016
Scientists have developed a new approach to combating lung cancer that could allow for the effective use of much lower chemotherapy doses.
A team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found a way of packaging the cancer drug paclitaxel in containers based on exosomes - tiny spheres harvested from the white blood cells of a patient's own immune system.
Made of the same material as cell membranes, the patient's body does not recognise them as foreign, preventing them from being destroyed and allowing the entire drug payload to be delivered to the tumour.
This allowed the scientists to use a dose of paclitaxel that was 50 times smaller than those currently used in routine clinical practice, while still achieving the same results.
It could be an important discovery as paclitaxel, like many forms of chemotherapy, can have serious side effects such as hair loss, muscle and joint pain, diarrhoea and a weakened immune system.
Dr Elena Batrakova, an associate professor in the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, said: "We may eventually be able to treat patients with smaller and more accurate doses of powerful chemotherapy drugs, resulting in more effective treatment with fewer and milder side effects."
Posted by Edward Bartel
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