TUMOURS in spinal columns could be treated by adapting a procedure called kyphoplasty, which is used to heal spinal fractures caused by tumours or osteoporosis.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Illinois, USA, showed that adding magnetic particles to surgical cement, which is used to fill a spinal fracture in kyphoplasty, enables magnetic nanoparticles to be guided directly to the lesions; this finding offers the possibility of binding drugs to these nanoparticles in order to specifically target spinal column tumours.
“Our study provides an in vivo proof-of-concept that this novel drug delivery system can help treat underlying causes of spinal fractures in addition to providing structural support”, commented co-lead author Abhiraj Bhimani, a student at the UIC College of Medicine.
Following kyphoplasty in patients with tumour-induced spinal fractures, the tumour will often remain present even if the surgical cement successfully stabilises the bone. These spinal column tumours are difficult to target through conventional chemotherapy, which, when delivered intravenously, has to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Attaching drugs to nanoparticles is used as a method of treating cancers in various parts of the body. The most frequent way of achieving this has been to bind a tiny amount of the drug to the nanoparticle, which is additionally designed to bind to a specific type of cell, such as a cancer cell.
In their study, the team successfully guided magnetic nanoparticles to the magnetic cement in the spinal vertebrae of pigs, displaying the potential of this technique to treat spinal column tumours.
“By modifying the kyphoplasty bone cement, we can both stabilise the spinal column and provide a targeted drug delivery system. This is a very promising technology as it has the potential to become a surgical option for patients with primary spinal column tumours or tumours that metastasize to the spinal column”, explained co-lead author Steven Denyer, another student at the UIC College of Medicine.
The next stage of research is to bind the magnetic nanoparticles to minute amounts of chemotherapy drugs in order test the efficacy of this method in treating spinal column tumours.
James Coker, Reporter
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