Targeted drug delivery approach for selective elimination of metastatic stem cells.


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Researchers at the Center for Biomedical Research in the Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine Network (CIBER-BBN) at the Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute (IIB Sant Pau), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the CSIC have demonstrated the effectiveness of a nanodrug that selectively removes metastatic stem cells in animal models of colon cancer. These results have been published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

The team, led by Ramón Mangues, Antonio Villaverde and Esther Vázquez, has shown that the drug acts only on the metastasis-initiating cells through its specific interaction between a peptide present in the protein nanoparticle that transports it and the cellular receptor CXCR4 that it is overexpressed in tumor cells. In June 2017, the same authors launched Nanoligent, a spin-off created to develop the first drug designed to eliminate metastatic cells.

It is the first drug in the world that blocks metastatic spread, the main cause of death in cancer patients. This allows attacking only the tumor cells, blocking their dissemination in early stages, in a way that prevents the appearance of metastasis while avoiding the adverse effects derived from the usual treatments.

The Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona would be the first center in the world to evaluate this drug in humans, prior to its possible introduction in clinical therapeutics.