Biomedical engineers at UC Davis have successfully tested in mice a treatment for breast cancer that uses ultrasound to release anticancer drugs from nanoparticles inside a tumor.
“We do think we are onto something interesting with these particles. Our mice are now out one year without recurrence,” said Kathy Ferrara, professor of biomedical engineering and senior author on the study, which was published in August in the Journal of Controlled Release.
The treatment used liposomes, or small particles made of a shell of fatty molecules, containing a mixture of copper and doxorubicin, a drug used to treat a variety of cancers including breast cancer.
The particles were injected into mice with breast tumors. The researchers treated the tumors with ultrasound, which heats up the nanoparticles and causes them to break open, releasing the drugs in a targeted way.
The researchers found that four weeks’ treatment, the tumors had completely disappeared and did not recur. There were no signs of systemic side effects in the mice, such as hair or weight loss.
The team is working with the National Cancer Institute’s Nanocharacterization Laboratory to repeat the study and move towards clinical trials. They also plan to carry out clinical studies in companion animals, Ferrara said.