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A diamond edged weapon against cancer

By attaching the chemotherapy drug Epirubicin to nanodiamonds it may be possible to effectively destroy chemoresistant cancer stem cells says a study led by the National University of Singapore (NUS). Led by Assistant Professor Edward Chow, Junior Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at NUS, the study shows that repurposing prevalent chemotherapy drugs with the help of nanotechnology is an effective method for defeating cancer stem cells that are chemoresistant.

The ability of cancer cells to defy chemotherapy (chemo-resistance) is the main reason for the failure of treatment in cancer. The formation of tumour is initiated by cancer stem cells and these are commonly found to be more resistant to chemotherapy than the rest of the bulk tumour. This leads to the recurrence of the disease following chemotherapy.

The NUS researchers attached nanodiamonds to the widely-used chemotherapy drug Epirubicin and evolved a nanodiamond-Epirubicin drug delivery complex (EPND), which they found was capable of killing chemoresistant cancer stem cells and preventing secondary tumour formation.

The nanodiamonds provided a broader range of protection and more safely than any of the current approaches to overcome chemo-resistance with combination drugs. The delivery of Epirubicin by nanodiamonds rendered a normally lethal dosage of Epirubicin safe thereby enhancing its effectiveness.

The versatility of the nanodiamond-based drug delivery platform opens up the possibility of future applications of nanodiamonds such as the addition of other similar drugs as well as active targeting components such as antibodies or peptides against tumour cell surface proteins for targeted drug release.

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