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BIOBOARD - ASIA
Green tea-based drug carriers improve cancer treatment
A research team at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have developed green tea nanocarriers which can carry more drugs and are more stable than current drug delivery systems, aiding in the treatment of liver cancer.

The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR has reported superior results using new green tea-based nanocarriers to kill liver cancer cells, compared to existing drug delivery systems. IBN Team Leader and Principal Research Scientist, Dr Motoichi Kurisawa, and his group recently published their findings in the scientific journal Advanced Materials.

Researchers working on drug carrier technologies to improve cancer treatment face two key challenges. First, existing carriers used to transport drugs to tumor cells in the body can typically carry only about 10 per cent of their weight in drugs. This means that more carriers are needed to deliver a specific amount of drugs, and patients would require more frequent injections or a larger dosage per treatment to kill cancer cells effectively.

Secondly, current carrier systems are unstable. As they move around in the body, they are easily diluted in the bloodstream or destabilized by plasma proteins. This leads to leakage of the drugs before the carrier reaches its intended target, thus harming healthy cells along the way to the tumor site. These shortcomings of current carrier systems result in less effective therapy and potential toxic side effects for the patients.

In 2014, IBN researchers led by Dr Kurisawa created self-assembling nanocarriers from epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), a known antioxidant found in green tea, and Herceptin, a breast cancer drug. Those nanocarriers could load and deliver more drugs to the cancer cells, and killed them more effectively than other formulations of the drug (Nature Nanotechnology, 2014).

The team has applied the same approach to make new nanocarriers from EGCG and Doxorubicin, which can carry up to 88 per cent of their weight in drugs. Doxorubicin is used to treat a variety of different cancers, such as breast, bladder, liver, and leukaemia. IBN’s green tea-Doxorubicin nanocarriers were tested in a liver cancer mouse model and displayed superior tumor-killing performance and stability with minimal unwanted toxicity, when compared with two other clinical formulations of Doxorubicin.

The uniqueness of IBN’s nanocarrier lies in the strong intermolecular interaction between the structurally similar EGCG and small molecule anti-cancer drugs. This interaction facilitates drug loading and also provides excellent thermodynamic and kinetic stability to the carrier.

According to Dr Kurisawa, “The unprecedented amount of drug loading in our new nanocarriers allows us to kill more liver cancer cells effectively. We are hopeful that our technology would lead to fewer side effects in patients.”

The researchers are now evaluating the loading of other types of drugs in the carrier.

References:

  1. K. Liang, J. E. Chung, S. J. Gao, N. Yongvongsoontorn and M. Kurisawa, “Highly Augmented Drug Loading and Stability of Micellar Nanocomplexes Composed of Doxorubicin and Poly(ethylene glycol)-Green Tea Catechin Conjugate for Cancer Therapy,” Advanced Materials, (2018) 1706963.

  2. J. E. Chung, S. Tan, S. J. Gao, N. Yongvongsoontorn, S. H. Kim, J. H. Lee, H. S. Choi, H. Yano, L. Zhuo, M. Kurisawa and J. Y. Ying, “Self-Assembled Micellar Nanocomplexes Comprising Green Tea Catechin Derivatives and Protein Drugs for Cancer Therapy,” Nature Nanotechnology, 9 (2014) 907-912.

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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management / Vaccination
August:
Regenerative medicine / Biotech start ups
September:
Digital healthcare / 3D printing
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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