Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Affecting the brain, those unlucky enough to receive a diagnosis don’t have many treatment options – and usually a median life expectancy of just over a year. Now, researchers at MIT have developed nanoparticles that could provide hope, crossing the blood-brain barrier and delivering two types of drugs to fight tumors.
This partnership was very carefully chosen. Temozolomide is widely known to damage the DNA of cancer cells, while JQ-1 is a type of bromodomain inhibitor, meaning it reduces the tumor’s ability to repair that DNA damage. To help the nanoparticles sneak through the blood-brain barrier, the researchers coated them with a protein called transferrin, which also has the bonus effect of helping the liposomes bind to the cancer cells. And finally, the whole package was coated in a polymer called polyethylene glycol (PEG), which protects the nanoparticles from being attacked by the immune system.