Saturday, May 20, 2006

Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Less toxic, breathable anticancer agents?

"As anticancer agents go, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) belongs to the category of drugs that have reasonable tumor-killing activity but whose use is limited by adverse side effects that occur at even moderate doses of the drug. Now, a series of papers published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences has demonstrated that lipid-coated polymer nanoparticles may significantly alter the balance between efficacy and toxicity. As an added benefit, these nanoparticles can be breathed into the lungs and may therefore be useful for delivering sustained doses of 5-FU for treating lung cancer.

Timothy Wiedmann, Ph.D., and Lee Wattenberg, M.D., both of the University of Minnesota, led a team of investigators that created and tested a variety of nanoparticle and microparticle formulations to identify which might serve as a useful delivery vehicle for 5-FU. The idea behind this research was the understanding that 5-FU’s cancer killing activity is limited by the fact that the drug is not toxic until the body first adds what is known as a triphosphate group to the drug molecule. Unfortunately, the body can convert only about 20 percent of an injected dose into the active form before the rest of the dose is excreted."

(For the full nanotech wire article, click here.)