IMAGE: Outline of the drug delivery system (DDS) created in this study. view more
Credit: Osaka University
Cancer tissue cells are divided into two major groups: cancer cells and cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs are related to cancer progression and dissemination, so it’s necessary to eradicate CSCs in order to cure cancer. However, because CSCs are resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, cancer is refractory.
A research group from Osaka University, in collaboration with Tokyo Institute of Technology, had found that there were CD13 surface markers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) stem cells. When CD13 inhibitor ubenimex is added to CSCs, HCC stem cells cause apoptosis (programmed cell death), becoming extinct. However, because CSCs only reside in part of tumor tissues, it’s imperative to develop a method for delivering drugs in high concentration to target sites.
The researchers created a drug delivery system (DDS) using a poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(lysine) block copolymer-ubenimex conjugate (PEG-b-PLys(Ube)). The use of this DDS has enabled an increase in the concentration of ubenimex in target CSCs. In addition, combined use of standard anticancer drugs significantly decreased CSCs. (Figure 1) Their research results were published in Oncogene.
Lead author Masamitsu Konno says, “First, we developed a DDS to deliver
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