The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a human tissue model to show the function of nanoparticles. Cancers such as glioblastoma are highly lethal, and treating them is challenging owing to the blood-brain barrier. The barrier prevents most chemotherapy medications from passing through the blood arteries surrounding the brain and hampered cancer treatment attempts.
Now, researchers have created nanoparticles that can transport the medication inside tumors and destroy glioblastoma cells.
To assess the efficacy of the nanoparticles, researchers designed a technique and built a model of the blood-brain barrier. An article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailed the brain tissue model.
"We're hoping that by testing these nanoparticles in a much more realistic model, we can save a lot of time and energy that's wasted in the clinic trying things that don't work," said Joelle Straehla, the study's lead author and the Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Clinical Investigator at MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Researchers employed patient-derived glioma cells grown in a microfluidic device to imitate the complicated structure of the brain. Human endothelial cells were then employed to create blood arteries in small tubes encircling the tumor cell sphere. They also included two cell types, pericytes, and astrocytes, which are involved in the transit of chemicals across the blood-brain barrier.
A layer-by-layer-assembly approach was utilized in the lab to manufacture the nanoparticles. The particles employed in the study are coated with AP2, a peptide that has been shown to assist nanoparticles to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The nanoparticles were examined in tissue models of both healthy brain tissue and tumor tissue. It was discovered that particles coated with the AP2 peptide passed through the arteries around the tumors with ease.
Following that, the particles were loaded with the chemotherapeutic medication cisplatin and coated with the targeting peptide. The coated particles were able to destroy glioblastoma tumor cells in the model, but the uncoated particles harmed healthy blood arteries.
"We observed enhanced cell death in tumors treated with peptide-coated nanoparticles over bare nanoparticles or free medication." "Those coated particles demonstrated more specificity in killing the tumor versus killing everything in a general manner," said Cynthia Hajal, another study's lead author.