Developing nanomedicines to treat prostate cancer
Dr Dufès and her team in Glasgow are developing nanomedicine carriers to help target hard-to-treat prostate cancers which have returned or spread.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with 130 new cases diagnosed every day in the UK alone. Although effective treatments exist for early hormone-dependent prostate cancer, cancer which has returned or spread is harder to treat. New treatment approaches are therefore critically needed for these patients.
“Gene therapy holds great promise for the treatment of prostate cancer.” Says Dr Dufès. “However, its use is currently limited by the lack of safe and effective ways of delivering therapeutic genes to prostate tumours without secondary effects to healthy tissues.”
Tumours need iron to grow, and molecules which detect and transport iron into tumours are present in abundance on the surface of tumour cells. In earlier studies Dr Dufès and her team exploited this fact and used specially engineered iron ‘carriers’ to target genes specifically to tumours. “We found that that the use of iron-carriers linked to highly promising prototype gene therapies caused the disappearance of 60 per cent of prostate tumours in mice.” Says Dr Dufès.
“We now want to build on these promising results and develop new ‘seek-and-destroy’ systems incorporating what we have learned. This proof-of-concept research will hopefully help us develop an entirely new way to deliver gene therapy to hard-to-treat tumours in a safe, specific, and effective way.”