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Nanotechnology for treating liver cancer

Penn State College of Medicine researchers used molecular-sized bubbles filled with chemotherapy drugs to prevent cell growth and initiate cell death to treat liver cancer. By this process cancer cells can be targeted very specifically and accurately without affecting a larger area that includes healthy cells. Researchers evaluated the use of molecular-sized bubbles filled with C6-ceramide, called cerasomes, as an anti-cancer agent.
Ceramide is a lipid molecule naturally present in the plasma membrane of the cell and control cell functions, including cell aging, or senescence. Ceramide is non-toxic to normal cells while selectively killing cancer cells.
Cerasomes, developed at Penn State College of Medicine, can target cancer cells very specifically and accurately, rather than affecting healthy cells. The problem with ceramide is that as a lipid, it cannot be delivered effectively as a drug, hence researchers have used nanotechnology to create tiny cerasome, to turn the insoluble lipid into a soluble one. Cerasomes were designed as a therapeutic alternative to common chemotherapeutics and these have been shown to be toxic to cancer cells and not to normal cells and have already been shown to effectively treat cellular and animal models of breast cancer and melanoma. Cerasomes have also been shown to be essentially free of toxic side effects normally associated with anticancer agents.
Liver cancer treatment
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the fifth most common cancer in the world and is highly aggressive. The chance of surviving five years is less than five percent, and treatment is typically chemotherapy and surgical management including transplantation. Cerasomes have been shown to selectively induce cell death in the cancer cells in the test tube and animal models of liver cancer. In mice with liver cancer, cerasomes blocked tumor vascularisation, the forming of blood vessels needed for growth and nutrition. Studies show that lack of nutrition causes cells to create more ceramide and leads to cell death. It is plausible that preventing liver tumor vascularization with cerasome treatment could induce widespread apoptosis, a genetically programmed series of events that leads to cell death in tumors. The efficacy of cerasomes in the treatment of diverse cancers shows significant therapeutic promise in medicine.

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