A recent study reveals that a 70-year-old malaria drug is capable of blocking immune cells in the liver allowing the arrival of nanoparticles at their intended tumor site, thus overcoming a major obstacle of targeted drug delivery, according to a team of researchers headed by Houston Methodist.

Numerous cancer patients fail to respond to chemotherapies since the drugs never reach the cancer cells. Even in nanomedicine, considered to be one of the best recent methods for delivering drugs to a tumor, only about 1% of a dose of nanoparticles is successfully able to arrive at the intended tumor site, while the remaining nanoparticles are filtered out by the immune cells of the spleen and liver.
By using chloroquine, the researchers were able to increase the circulation of nanoparticles in the body, and also reduce the body’s filtration of nanoparticles, alongside improving drug delivery to breast tumors. The study was published in Scientific Reports, a research journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

Headed by Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and Joy Wolfram, Ph.D. (presently at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida), the research demonstrated that chloroquine interfered with immune cells known as macrophages, which are employed by the body in order to identify microscopic foreign objects and then destroy them.

Image Credit:  Houston Methodist

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