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Thursday, 03 May 2012

Gold nanoparticles and Cisplatin: a promising new cancer treatment

Nanotargeting and Ferrer sign agreement to develop the treatment, based on the work of ICN Group Leader Victor Puntes and colleagues at other centres.

Delivery of the chemotherapeutic agent Cisplatin to the tumour site by gold nanoparticles prevents many of the side effects that occur with traditional administration.

Nanotargeting SL, a biotechnology company that operates in the field of nanoparticles, and pharmaceutical firm Ferrer Grupo SA have signed an agreement to develop a new cancer treatment that uses gold nanoparticles functionalised with Cisplatin.

Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug used to treat several types of cancer; however, its clinical use is limited by its numerous side effects, especially nephrotoxicity (toxicity to the kidneys). The pharmacological and kinetic properties of cisplatin linked to the gold nanoparticles reduce nephrotoxicity and other adverse effects of the drug, while maintaining or even improving its anti-tumour activity. The idea was conceived by Dr Victor Puntes, ICREA Research Professor and leader of the Inorganic Nanoparticles Group at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (ICN), and developed in collaboration with Dr Fernando Dominguez of the University of Santiago de Compostela, Dr Francisco Romero of the University of Valencia, and Dr Oscar Gallego of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The team's research findings have been summarised in a patent application, the rights of which have been acquired by the company Nanotargeting SL.

Prof Puntes explains that "When Cisplatin is administered (alone), part of it goes on to cause major kidney problems and other toxic effects, and it irreversibly binds to the protein albumin, which transports it to the tumour but renders it inactive; therefore, it loses its therapeutic effect. In contrast, gold nanoparticles carry cisplatin to the tumour in its passive form, and also prevent their passage through the kidney, thereby preventing nephrotoxicity."

According to Dr Antonio Guglietta, head of the Centre for Pharmaceutical Research and Development at Ferrer, "The agreement with Nanotargeting SL strengthens our presence in the field of advanced therapies, with a project of major clinical interest that will significantly improve the treatment of various cancers and the quality of life of patients. Cisplatin with gold nanoparticles is an excellent example of collaborative synergy between the public and private sectors, in which each part contributes to the success of the project with their specific and complementary expertise. "

Piergiorgio Pelassa, promoter of the initiative, said "In Spain we have created Nanonica Europe SL to fund cutting-edge technology companies with projects in the field of nanotechnology. Nanotargeting SL is the first company to develop a project funded by this firm."

ICN Director* Dr Jordi Pascual affirmed that "the ambitious project is supported by three pillars to successfully achieve the proposed objectives: the participation of renowned research groups; capital and management by provided from the business side; and the invaluable assistance of a powerful pharmaceutical group."

*As of 25 April 2011, Dr Pascual is no longer Director of ICN.