An international team of researchers led by Dr. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, Director of the “Nanomedicine Translational Think Tank” at the Mannheim Medical Faculty at Universität Heidelberg, has developed a method that has the potential to prevent cancer stem cells from dividing and metastasising. The trick is to use nanomaterials that trap cancer stem cells.
For their investigations, the researchers used prostate cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are responsible for the progression and metastasis of the tumour. CSCs are excellent targets for controlling and preventing the division of cancer cells. The researchers used self-assembling nanomaterials made of peptides (SAP). These nano-sized “traps” enclose the CSCs and stop cancer stem cell colony formation and division of cancer cells, thereby preventing the differentiation and migration of cancer cells. The self-assembling nanomaterials can therefore prevent the progression of cancer and metastasis. The researchers were also able to place the CSCs into stasis, preventing them from migrating away from the site of treatment.
“The goal of cancer therapy is to reduce the ability of cancer cells to divide and migrate,” said Dr. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, who works at the Eye Hospital at the University Medical Centre (UMM) in Mannheim, and is co-author of a paper published in “Cell Transplantation” in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Hong Kong. “We have been able to show that SAPs can completely inhibit a prostate CSC from self-renewal while preserving its viability and its stem cell properties.”The results offer a new approach for the development of new strategies for the treatment of tumours for which no curative treatment has been available up until now. The authors speculated that by coupling the SAPs to chemotherapeutic agents and injecting the material directly into the tumour, it might be possible to stop the spread of metastatic cells. The results have been obtained in in vitro experiments (cell cultures) and will need to be substantiated in additional studies.
Publication:Using Self-Assembled Nanomaterials to Inhibit the Formation of Metastatic Cancer Stem Cell Colonies In VitroLing, Patrick M. T.; Cheung, Sunny W. H.; Tay, David K. C.; Ellis-Behnke, Rutledge G.Cell TransplantationVolume 20, Number 1, 2011 , pp. 127-131(5)