Side Effects Of Chemotherapy Can Be Minimized, According To New Study
It is known that most anti-cancer therapies are harmful to most cells in the body, not just to cancer cells. For this reason patients who are diagnosed with cancer and are treated with chemotherapeutic agents will experience unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, alopecia (hair loss), recurring infections and even increased risk to develop a secondary tumor later in their life. In order to combat these potentially side effects, researchers at Sanford – Burnham Medical Research Institute have implemented a therapeutic technique that delivers the chemotherapeutic agents directly into tumors, which leads to an increased effectiveness and decreased side effects occurance.
The research team, led by Michiko Fukuda published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, according to which they managed to link a chemotherapeutic agent to IF7, to a protein that has a high affinity for blood vessels that irrigate tumors. They administered IF7 in mice with colon cancer and observed that this small protein transported the chemotherapeutic agent to the tumor, where the drug was able to stop the development of the cancer, at a lower dose than usual. No side effects were reported. This experiment shows that IF7 is an efficient drug carrier that can be used for treating cancer.
“We can cure terminal stage mice with very large tumors without any side effects simply by giving them this drug coupled with IF7,” said Dr. Fukuda.
IF7 is a peptide similar to carbohydrates which can inhibit metastasis. Carbohydrates are found on the surface of every living cell in the body, along with the proteins that bind them. For this reason they are playing a very important role in all processes that occur at cellular level, even in the formation and metastasis of the cancerous process. IF7 is a peptide similar to carbohydrates which can inhibit metastasis and its mechanism of action is represented by the fact that IF7 can bind annexin 1, that is a carbohydrate-binding protein found in high levels on the surfaces of the tumoral blood vessels.
The researchers administered to mice with colon cancer, IF7 coupled with a fluorescent substance to highlight the tumors, then they coupled IF7 with SN-38, which is a chemotherapeutic agent. After daily injection of IF7/SN-38 they observed that the tumor began to shrink. The scientists administrated only one-seventh of the total amount of SN-38 necessary for tumor size reduction, reason why the side effects did not develop.
“Although we tested colon tumors in this study, theoretically any tumor that induces expression of annexin 1 in blood vessels would work with this systemit just depends on what kind of drug it’s paired with,” said Minoru Fukuda, Ph.D.
With this study, the researchers concluded that IF7 is a very important carrier for chemotherapeutic agents as it has a very specific tumor activity.