Russian researchers have developed a nanodrug that can identify a brain tumour during the first stage, and can subsequently be used for the diagnosis of other cancer types as well.
The research team led by Alexander Majouga, head of the biomedical nanomaterials laboratory at Russia’s National University of Science and Technology, is planning to start clinical trials of the new nanoagent in 2018, an official statement said.
But not only does this technology help diagnose early stage cancers, in the future it will also be used for targeted drug transport directly aimed at tumour cells, the researchers said.
After properly identifying faulty cells, the drug breaches those cells – a process that only affects the tumour cells and leaves the rest of the organism undisturbed.
“We have developed a technology which has no analogues in the world and which allows the release of drugs into specific tumour cells,” Majouga said.
The new nanoagent is essentially an upgraded version of the tracers currently used in PET (positron emission tomography scans) — a type of imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease in the body — with the added bonus of its compatibility with MRI technology – which has none of the radiation risks of PET scans.
Containing magnetite covered with biopolymer, the drug has an average size of just 40 nanometers.
The magnetite nanoparticles can be seen on MRI images, allowing doctors to diagnose a tumour in its very early stages.
The magnetite nanoagent itself, in contrast to tracers and other existing alternatives, is not toxic and is much cheaper than current options, the statement added.