Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have conducted a study that highlights a potential age-related difference in the effectiveness of certain nano-based cancer therapies. The findings suggest that younger patients may have a reduced response to these treatments compared to older patients, emphasizing the need for further investigation into the impact of aging on the body’s ability to respond to treatment.
The study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, focused on the liver’s role in filtering the bloodstream. The researchers found that younger livers are more efficient at this process, which helps remove toxins from the blood, but can also filter out beneficial treatments, making them less effective.
Dr. Wen Jiang, one of the lead researchers, explained that young livers are so effective at filtering that they can remove a significant amount of nanomedicine. This discovery indicates that in some cases, these drugs may be less effective in younger patients compared to older ones.
Nanomedicine formulations use nano-scale carriers to deliver treatments, offering advantages such as reduced toxicity, increased target specificity, and increased dosage. Over 50 nano-based therapies have been approved by the FDA, with 19 listed by the National Cancer Institute for use in cancer treatment.
The study focused on a specific nano-based therapy called nanoparticle-albumin-bound paclitaxel, which has been used since 2005 for certain cancers. The researchers explored the role of a specific protein called scavenger receptor MARCO, which is expressed more in younger immune cells in the liver. They found that blocking MARCO improved the effectiveness of the nanomedicine in younger models but not in older ones.
The findings suggest that there may not be a one-size-fits-all drug delivery strategy that works effectively across diverse patient populations. Personalized design may be necessary for future nanomedicines. The study also highlights the need for further investigation into the clearance process in the liver and how to overcome potential limitations.
While the study focused on cancer, the researchers believe that the age-related difference in phagocytic clearance could potentially affect any nanodrug delivery system. Understanding the mechanisms behind the clearance process and finding ways to overcome it could significantly improve the effectiveness of nanotherapies for patients of all ages.
– University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
– Wang, Y., et al. (2023) Age-associated disparity in phagocytic clearance affects the efficacy of cancer nanotherapeutics. Nature Nanotechnology. doi.org/10.1038/s41565-023-01502-3.