Researchers from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ), a joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), have developed a new nanomedicine for the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, based on the use of porous organic nanoparticles (COF, for its acronym in English). The treatment, already patented, and which selectively destroys cancer cells in the prostate gland and local lymph nodes, is more efficient and less aggressive than conventional chemotherapy.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among European men. Its incidence exceeds 100 cases per 100,000 individuals. In addition, it is currently the second most common cause of cancer death in men.
Treatment consists of a COF nanoparticle in which the molecule of a therapeutic agent is inserted, in this case docetaxel, the most used drug for the treatment of hormone therapy-resistant prostate cancer; an anti-FOLH1 monoclonal antibody, which selectively interacts with FOLH1 membrane receptors of prostate cancer cells, and an imaging agent, generally a radionuclide for positron emission tomography (PET).
The administration protocol is also new, since it is intratumoral, which limits its incidence in the rest of the body, minimizing the side effects of docetaxel. It solves the toxicity problems generated by the intravenous administration of this drug, whose high systemic toxicity limits both the dose and the duration of therapy, which significantly reduces its antitumor efficacy.
“With our nanomedicine, the required dose is lower than in conventional chemotherapy and its therapeutic effect is greater. In in vitro studies on prostate cancer cells, the system has managed to improve the antitumor activity of docetaxel up to 15 times ”, says Pablo Botella, CSIC researcher at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ, CSIC-UPV).
The new system also allows the identification of tumor cells and their destruction at the same time, which helps to follow the evolution of the cancer and the specificity of the treatment simultaneously. All of this is possible thanks to the use of a directing molecule, specific receptors on tumor cells and the PET imaging technique, which helps to locate malignant tissue in the prostate with single-celled precision, which facilitates the diagnosis of the disease in its first stages.
In addition, the release of the therapeutic agent can be monitored for hours or days and the nanoparticle used is 100% organic in composition and completely biodegradable (unlike others of inorganic or hybrid nature), which facilitates its complete elimination.