International Institute of Medicine & Science, USA
Title: Nanotechnology may provide new hope for brain cancer therapy
Cancer cells are notoriously resistant to drugs intended to kill them by rerouting the signaling networks responsible for cancer cells' growth, proliferation, and survival. A drug may block a particular signaling pathway but within a matter of days (minutes in some cases), cancer cells begin to rely on alternate pathways to promote their survival. The simultaneous use of several drugs (“rational combination therapy”) is meant to attack both the primary and alternate pathways to preemptively block the cancer cells' escape route. Unfortunately, the efficacy of many combination therapies has been limited because drugs have very different chemical properties, which cause them to travel to different parts of the body and enter cancer cells at different rates. The situation is considerably more complicated for brain cancer (glioblastoma multiform or octopus tumor) because the cancer cells extend their tendrils into the surrounding tissue, which is virtually inoperable, resistant to therapies, and always fatal. A major obstacle to treatment is the blood brain barrier or network of blood vessels that allows essential nutrients to enter the brain but block the passage of other substances. I will describe novel nanotechnology approaches for delivering drugs across and around the brain protective barriers.