Exciting new findings by an RMIT researcher could see vast improvements in cancer treatment.
Dr Sheshanath Bhosale is studying targeted drug delivery through the use of magnetic silica nanoparticles.
These nanoparticles attract and kill more diseased cells than simple particles currently used in cancer drugs.
"We got very promising preliminary data on releasing the drugs in targeted areas such as breast, brain and lung cancer cells," Bhosale says.
"And the sustained release of drugs with our system will have more benefits than other systems developed earlier, as all of the released molecules will be consumed to destroy the cancer cells."
His work comes on the back of his team's research on yoctowells, or molecular cavities, which help researchers analyse individual molecules.
Bhosale says molecular manipulation through yoctowells could enhance drug delivery for a range of diseases and drugs.
"What we have done so far is use the existing yoctowells system to find out whether it does work in encapsulation release of drug molecules from the yoctowells, and we had good success - but these particles can't be used for targeted delivery," he says.
"But with the system on magnetic particles we can accumulate all the particles on specific cells like cancer cells to release the drugs of choice."
Bhosale and his research team hope their new findings will be used to improve cancer drugs such as Doxorubicin, which kills only a low percentage of cancer cells.
Their work has shown that yoctowells can work with molecular, as well as supramolecular, stimuli to control the encapsulation and release of Doxorubicin.
"By developing a system on magnetic particles we can bring the drug to a specific tissue, cells or inside the cells to deliver the drug more efficiently and without disturbing healthy cells," Bhosale says.
"Using the yoctowells system, drug delivery can be more effective because the drug is better solubilised and guided so less drug is needed, which benefits the patient."
Bhosale has authored a report on this latest research, which is currently under review by the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
He will continue to work and conduct trials on magnetic nanoparticle research in collaboration with Indian medical institutions, the Shri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad.
Bhosale says lab-based tests will refine the research before it goes to animal trials.
"We want to analyse the toxicity and not kill the good cells, so we have to go into depth about this," he says. "But so far it's working very smoothly in the lab."
The project is being funded by a $687,000 grant from the Australian Research Centre.
Story: Kate Jones
Photo: Carla Gottgens
This story was first published in RMIT's Making Connections magazine.