MU research shows promising results in treating prostate cancer

Thursday, November 19, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — MU researchers have made a discovery that could change the way prostrate cancer is surgically removed — even after tumors have become enlarged.

According to a news release from the MU School of Medicine, the new treatment has been effective in using engineered radioactive gold nanoparticles to reduce the size of prostate cancer tumors in mice. 

Co-principal investigators Kattesh Katti and Raghuraman Kannan, with the MU School of Medicine's radiology department, have been studying the treatment for four years and are currently in the process of applying clinical trials on humans. 

"We're encouraged by the results of this study and its implications," Katti said in a news release. "Reduction in tumor volume has a direct impact on the effectiveness of chemotherapy and immunotherapy in a cancer patient, and it (has) also been associated with slowing down a cancer's metastasis and invasion." 

Prostate cancer is second to lung cancer as the most deadly cancer in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that 192,280 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the U.S.; of those, 27,360 men will die if not treated early.  

Katti and Kannan's study of a radioactive gold nanoparticle, GA-198 AuNP, showed an 82 percent reduction of tumors in mice after a single dose was administered. Their results appeared in the international journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine.

"There are limited clinical interventions for treating advanced stage prostate and pancreatic cancers," said Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Mayo Clinic. "Therapeutic efficacy of radioactive gold nanoparticles, as demonstrated in animal models by Dr. Katti and Dr. Kannan, present realistic potential for clinical translation for use in cancer patients." 

As stated in the news release, there have been limited to no side effects from the injected dose, which has been a challenge presented by other prostate cancer treatments that target the tumor vasculature, or blood vessel network. 

"Even though these agents are effective, many times their size doesn't match up with the size of the tumor blood vessels, which can cause the therapeutic agents to leak out significantly," Kannan said in a press release. "This reduces the effectiveness of the treatment in killing tumor cells. However, our agent is a perfect fit for the porous tumor vasculature, leading to little or no side effects." 

According to the release, the MU Research Reactor is one of the only sites worldwide that has the ability to create gold nanoparticles. In 2006, Katti received a prostate cancer grant that made MU one of 12 universities able to participate in the National Cancer Institute's national nanotechnology platform partnership.

Faculty members with the Research Reactor, the College of Veterinary Medicine and chemistry department collaborated on the project. Grants from the National Institutes of Health, Nanoparticle Biochem Inc. and the Missouri Life Sciences Research Board as well as private endowment funded the project. 

The research was discussed Wednesday during a Missouri Nano Frontiers symposium at the Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center.

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