Albumin, a tiny particle found readily in the blood is being used to carry radioactive isotopes to sites of cancerous tumors in the body. With the added benefit of avoiding many of the side-effects of conventional radiotherapies.
In the current issue of the International Journal of Nanotechnology and Biomaterials, Virginia Nazarica Borza et al, from the National Institute of R&D for Physics and Nuclear Engineering in Bucharest, Romania there is a report on the use of human serum albumin nanoshperes being labelled with Rhenium-188 radioisotope.
Previously termed therapies known as ‘magic bullets’ against cancers have been developed for many years. But not since the application of nanotechnology in medicine have the treatments lived up to their name. But now these amazing treatments could be one step closer, as drug delivery direct to the site that requires treatment will increase efficacy of the treatment whilst limiting its side effects. Nanoparticles are the key to this, with their unique chemical and physical properties they can be harnessed to develop such a therapeutic agent.
Borza has shown that these nanospheres can be loaded with our own human albumin attached to radioactive isotopes capable of emitting beta particles. Beta particle decay is in the form of high-energy electrons, which will be given off as the radioactive isotope decays.
The next concern is, of course, the about radioisotopes released inside the body. But not to worry as the team from Romania have worked out the optimal safe parameters for the cancer killing nanospheres. With a high enough radioactivity to destroy the cancerous cells but a short enough half-life to ensure that the radioisotopes do not stay radioactive for too long so that distant tissues do not feel their effects.
The nanospheres are produced in a process involving heating the albumin particles with Rhenium-188, in the presence of a tin salt, a chelating agent, tartate and stannous chloride.
We won’t be seeing this treatment just yet in a clinical setting as the treatment is still at the level of pre-clinical trials to determine their targeting abilities and therapeutic efficacy. But fingers crossed and watch this space! – CT