Newly developed green tea-based drug carrier could treat liver cancer more effectively: A*STAR study
The research team at IBN that developed the green tea nanocarriers. Clockwise from right: Dr Kun Liang, Dr Motoichi Kurisawa, Dr Joo Eun Chung, Dr Shu Jun Gao and Dr Nunnarpas Yongvongsoontorn. (Photo: A*STAR)
SINGAPORE: Self-assembling drug carriers made from an antioxidant found in green tea and a liver cancer drug could be used to treat liver cancer more effectively, according to scientists from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR.
These drug carriers, called nanocarriers, "could load and deliver more drugs to the cancer cells, and killed them more effectively than other formulations of the drug", according to a press release from A*STAR on Thursday (Mar 15). The antioxidant from green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), when combined with cancer drug Doxorubicin, could be more effective in killing liver cancer cells because it can "carry up to 88 per cent of their weight in drugs".
“The unprecedented amount of drug loading in our new nanocarriers allows us to kill more liver cancer cells effectively. We are hopeful that our technology would lead to fewer side effects in patients," said IBN team leader and principal research scientist, Dr Motoichi Kurisawa, who along with his group published their findings in the scientific journal Advanced Materials.
The antioxidant and cancer drug Doxorubicin were tested on a liver cancer mouse model that later displayed "superior tumour-killing performance and stability" as compared to other forms of the drug.
Previously, similar research was also conducted using the same antioxidant and another drug Herceptin, used to treat breast cancer.
With these new findings, more types of cancer could be better treated, as Doxorubicin is used to treat breast, bladder and liver cancer, as well as leukemia.
IMPROVING CURRENT CANCER TREATMENT TECHNOLOGIESThese findings could potentially help resolve two issues faced by researchers working to improve cancer treatment technologies. First, current carriers used to transport drugs to tumour cells in the body can typically carry only about 10 per cent of their weight in drugs. This means that more carriers are needed to deliver the drugs, and patients would require more frequent injections or a larger dosage per treatment to kill cancer cells effectively.The second issue is that current carrier systems are "easily diluted in the bloodstream or destabilised", resulting in the leakage of drugs before they reach the tumour cells. This could harm healthy cells along the way to the tumour site.
The researchers are currently looking to test other types of drugs using the drug carrier.