A new treatment for brain tumors appears to work surprisingly well. Medications delivered by 'nano couriers' are a major step towards a cure for brain cancer.
The scientists thought they had made a calculation error when delving into the research results.
But there was no error.
Their experiments with mice showed that they had killed many more cancer cells than in previous treatments.
Only tumor gets chemo
With so-called organic nano couriers, the researchers managed to deliver chemotherapy directly to the brain tumor - without surgery and without damaging the surrounding tissue.
The researchers have tested the technique for a persistent and hitherto incurable form of brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Patients with GBM have on average only 9 to 12 months to live after the onset of the tumor.
Medium poor all barriers
Brain tumors are difficult to treat. Surgery is complicated, and drugs encounter the blood-brain barrier in the fine blood vessels of the brain.
This barrier consists of a fine-meshed layer of cells, which ensures that harmful substances cannot enter the brain through the bloodstream.
But nanotechnology comes in handy here. The nano couriers are in fact small enough to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and find their way to the tumor, where they deliver the medication.
Tumor gives a helping hand
Moreover, the tumor itself ensures that the nano couriers have such a success. Because as the tumor grows, it secretes waste products in the blood, so that the nano couriers can better deliver chemotherapy.
Ann-Marie Broome, head of research at the University of South Carolina, says the experiment will be able to cure many more cases of brain cancer.