• Nanoparticles offer new pathway for Brain Tumour treatment
    Frankie Rawson (credit:University of Nottingham)
  • Ruman Rahman (Credit: University of Nottingham)

News & Views

Nanoparticles offer new pathway for Brain Tumour treatment

Oct 04 2023

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Nottingham, has discovered a method of using electrically charged molecules to target and trigger self-destruction of cancer cells in hard-to-treat brain tumours.

Led by the School of Pharmacy at Nottingham, the team found a new way to harness the extraordinary capabilities of bio-nanoantennae - gold nanoparticles intricately coated with specialised redox active molecules - to induce programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells on electrical stimulation. The discovery has the potential for the development of a spray treatment that can be used during surgery.

The research focused on patient-derived Glioblastoma cells, a formidable form of brain cancer, with a five-year survival rate of only 6.8% and estimated survival length of 8 months from diagnosis. The ability of the bio-nanoantennae to specifically target glioblastoma cells, leaving healthy cells unscathed opens up new possibilities for developing treatment for Glioblastoma during surgical resection of the tumour, when the bio-nanoantennae would be sprayed or injected.

The researchers, which included experts from the Schools of Engineering, Physics and Medicine have now established what is thought to be the first ‘quantum therapeutic’, which taps into the potential of quantum signalling to combat cancer.

Dr Frankie Rawson from the School of Pharmacy said: “The team showed that cancer cells succumb to the intricate dance of electrons, orchestrated by the enchanting world of quantum biology. With the advent of bio-nanoantennae, this vision of real-world quantum therapies edge closer to reality. By precisely modulating quantum biological electron tunnelling, these ingenious nanoparticles create a symphony of electrical signals that trigger the cancer cells' natural self-destruction mechanism.”

The team has now secured MRC impact acceleratory funding and  have filed a patent to begin translating the technology to this eventual clinical application. Further rigorous research and validation are essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of bio-nanoantennae for human use.

“Treating Glioblastoma tumours has long presented challenges for clinicians and prognosis for patients is still poor, which is why any research showing the promise of a new effective treatment is hugely exciting. This research has shown the possibilities presented by quantum therapeutics as a new technology to communicate with biology. The fusion of quantum bioelectronics and medicine brings us one step closer to a new treatment paradigm for disease,” added Dr Ruman Rahman, School of Medicine.

The research was publishedin Nature Nanotechnology.

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