Recently, a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women's Hospital showed that they could store an inactive form of cisplatin, called a prodrug, inside nanoparticles that are engineered to target a specific protein on prostate cancer cells. Once the cells take up the nanoparticle, the prodrug is released and converted to its active form. The team showed that these drug-carrying particles kill cancer cells in culture more efficiently than the drug alone.
Further work will be needed to show whether this technique works as well in humans as it does in small animals. If so, the targeted delivery of drugs using nanoparticles could become an exciting step into the future of cancer therapy. This work was published in the January 10, 2011 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.