New chemo drug less toxic to fertility
Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have developed for the first time a cancer drug that is less toxic to fertility but stronger against cancer. It seems that the drug used in chemotherapy, which is in the form of nanoparticles, is the first tested in vitro to see what is its effect on fertility. Up to date, drug testing to see that the degree of toxicity on the reproductive system has been quite expensive and time-consuming. But now researchers have developed a new in vitro quick test that can be used both for existing drugs and for those under development. Teresa Woodruff, co-principal investigator of the study and chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that their goal is to develop drugs to fight the cancer but in the same time to cause no harm to reproductive system in young women. Researchers hope that from now on chemotherapy drugs to be developed so as to take account of this aspect. The effect of chemotherapy on the reproductive system is extremely important in young women especially because oncology patient survival rate began to rise in recent years.
Arsenic trioxide, the drug used in chemotherapy, is packaged in some special particles called nanobins. Nanobins are nano-sized crystalline arsenic particles that are encapsulated in some fat bubbles called liposomes, which are hundreds of times smaller than human cells and which function as carriers for drug. Thomas O’Halloran, also co-principal investigator and director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern, said that to destroy a tumor a significant amount of arsenic is needed, also the drug should not affect the surrounding healthy tissue. Because these fat bubble are several hundred smaller than human cells, they can go directly to the tumor through the blood vessels. In addition, because of the acidic environment around the tumor, this nanobin particles release the drug, that is arsenic trioxide.
Even though the chemotherapic effect is quite potent, yet on the reproductive system, the new form of the drug has no harmful effects. Scientists were able to show that by this method ovaries, follicles and eggs are not affected . O’Halloran said that the drug was so constructed so as to have maximum efficiency but to reduce fertotoxicity. “Many cancer drugs cause sterilization, that’s why the reproductive tract is really important to focus on in the new stages of drug design. Other body systems get better when people stop taking the drug, but fertility you can’t recover,” said O’Halloran.