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Exploring Nanoparticle Therapy for Breast Cancer

Cancers are classified depending on the unregulated cell growth or multiplication occurring in a specific region of the body. Breast cancer the most common cancer found in women and rarely found in men with ductal carcinoma being the most common type of breast cancer. Most breast cancers emerge as a malignant tumour in the epithelial cells of the visceral region.

Breast cancer therapies include the standard methods such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy often cause side effects such as doxorubicin-induced hematopoiesis, fatigue, skin abnormalities, alopecia, etc. Scientists have come up with a new kind of therapy that recruits the use of nanoparticles (NP). The nanoparticle drug delivery system (NDDS) reduces the side effects of anticancer drugs, thereby making it a more suitable option for breast cancer therapies.

A review published in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics states that nanoparticle-mediated breast cancer therapy is a powerful tool for targeting breast cancer tumours by consistently enhancing the drug bioavailability. Nanoparticles possess well-advanced pharmacokinetics and stability when compared to other primitive methods. NDDS also possesses desirable characteristics, like low toxicity, hassle-free preparation, and computability. Several other nanoparticle studies also show that they can increase target drug build-up in cancer-infested tissues through enhanced permeability and retention.

There are various types of nanoparticles that are being exploited for breast cancer therapy/ breast cancer targeted drug delivery systems. Many researchers are even working to obtain nanoparticles from plants. NDDS for breast cancers includes Liposomal NP, Polymer-based NP, Metal-based NP, etc. Doxorubicin is being widely used with NP in breast cancer studies since its approval in 1974. However, due to high toxicity of the drug, Doxorubicin is more likely to be replaced with other drug formulations or chemotherapeutics.

One such type is viral nanoparticles which is also more advantageous when compared to other existing nanoparticles used for NDDS. Viral nanoparticles are relatively less pathogenic to human beings and might produce lesser side effects to patients as they are sourced from plant viruses and bacteriophages. Viral NP are also biodegradable. However, synthesising viral NP is an expensive procedure.

Male breast cancer is rarer in occurrence than female breast cancers. However, it is predominant in older age men and can occur in young men of any age group due to inherited genetic mutation. Breast cancer symptoms are more or less similar in both males and females. Hence many researchers are also studying NDDS and targeted therapies to treat metastatic breast cancer in men.

Drug resistance and multidrug resistance are some of the major roadblocks in developing cancer therapies. Multidrug resistance is observed when cancer cells becomes resistant to multiple chemotherapeutics.  The mechanisms of nanoparticles in combating drug resistances have played a significant role in multidrug resistance (MDR). As nanoparticles are loaded with targeting agents and cytotoxic agents. it can reverse drug resistance.

Nanotechnology-mediated cancer therapy has also exhibited accuracy in delivery. However, there are certain shortcomings associated with NDDS in breast cancer therapy. This includes inconsistent biodistribution of nanoparticles and slow drug penetration which can significantly affect drug delivery.

Nanotechnology-mediated drug delivery for breast cancer therapy has been widely used in clinical treatments. Advances in research over NDDS and the immune system will further aid in formulating novel nanoparticles to specifically target cancer cells. Additional studies on the morphology, size, composition, and appearance of nanoparticles used in drug delivery is required to further elucidate the interacting mechanisms between the immune system and the nanoparticle. These novel advancements in targeted nanotherapeutics will help stabilize the nanoparticle drug delivery systems for breast cancer.


Amirtha Varshini Ramesh is pursuing her Master’s by research with Biotechnology specialization. She loves exploring the nuances in health, nutrition, and wine sciences.

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