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NUS study shows promising use of nanodiamonds in delivering cancer drug to kill chemoresistant cancer stem cells more effectively

A study led by the (NUS) found that attaching chemotherapy drug Epirubicin to nanodiamonds effectively eliminates chemoresistant . The findings were first published online in ACS Nano, the official journal of the American Chemical Society, in December 2014.

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Edward Chow, Junior Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at NUS, demonstrated the use of nanotechnology to repurpose existing chemotherapy drugs as effective agents against chemoresistant cancer . Chemoresistance, which is the ability of to escape chemotherapy treatment, is a primary cause of treatment failure in cancer. Cancer stem cells, a type of cancer cell which initiates the formation of tumours, are commonly found to be more resistant to chemotherapy than the rest of the bulk tumour, which can lead to cancer recurrence following chemotherapy treatment. As such, there is intense interest in developing new drugs or treatment strategies that overcome chemoresistance, particularly in cancer stem cells.

In this study, widely-used chemotherapy drug Epirubicin was attached to nanodiamonds, carbon structures with a diameter of about five nanometres, to develop a nanodiamond-Epirubicin drug delivery complex (EPND). The researchers found that while both standard Epirubicin as well as EPND were capable of killing normal cancer cells, only EPND was capable of killing chemoresistant cancer stem cells and preventing secondary tumour formation in xenograft models of liver cancer.

Schematic model showing surface and chemical structure of nanodiamond and Epirubicin
Schematic model showing surface and chemical structure of nanodiamond (ND) and Epirubicin (Epi), synthesis and aggregation of Epirubicin-ND complex (EPND). ND represented in truncated octahedron structure with different surface charge denoted with color. ND surface functional group indicated, including benzene ring, carboxyl group and hydrogen group. Molecular skeleton representing carbon, oxygen and Nitrogen atoms in Epi molecule was shown in red.


Epirubicin-Adsorbed Nanodiamonds Kill Chemoresistant Hepatic Cancer Stem Cells, Xin Wan, Low XC, Weixin Hou, Abdullah LN, ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/nn503491e, published online 1 December 2014.

Source: National University of Singapore