Nanotechnology has been applied to produce various types of nanoparticles that can deliver toxic agents specifically to the cancer cells. Many of these approaches have shown promise in animal studies. One approach using magnetic nanoparticles has now gone into trials in patients. From “Nano-therapy that cooks deadly brain tumors advances in Germany,” by Ryan McBride:
Nanotechnology experts have been tackling the monster task of combating aggressive brain tumors that can’t be beat with chemotherapy and radiation treatments alone. This week MagForce reported that its therapy, which involves heating magnetic nanoparticles in tumor cells, was initiated in a patient with a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma at the University of Giessen in Germany.
While the “NanoTherm” therapy was cleared for the market in EU countries last year, it’s still regarded in the medical community as a relatively novel approach to treating the aggressive brain tumors. Germany-based MagForce has been laboring for years to bring the treatment to market, and the firm had been planning to release the product this year. This week’s news says that the company has begun the treatment in patients in Germany as planned and the country’s state insurance covered the cost under “an individual patient agreement.”
At the University of Giessen, the patient with the brain cancer got an injection of the firm’s magnetic nanoparticles into the tumor site. The aminosaline [sic—should say "aminosilane"] coatings on the iron oxide nanoparticles enable the nanoparticles to aggregate. The patient went to Charité University Medical Center Berlin for the next step of the therapy, which involves applying a magnetic field to rapidly move the nanoparticles and heat them up in order to kill the tumor cells or make them more responsive to chemo or radiation therapy. …
The MagForce web page explains that the aminosilane coating that enables the nanoparticles to aggregate also causes them to stay in place, making repeated treatments possible. This is a potential advantage over other approaches in which nanoparticles would have to be administered with each treatment. Unlike other approaches that rely upon molecules that bind specifically to cancer cells, this approach relies upon localizing the tumor and injecting the nanoparticles directly into the tumor. Only clinical trials will be able to determine which, if any, approaches are clinically effective in which cancers.