Using synthetic DNA sequences as the tiniest of barcodes, Technion researchers have developed a new diagnostic technology for determining the suitability of certain anticancer drugs to a specific patient-before treatment begins. Their study, published in Nature Communications, was led by Assistant Professor Avi Schroeder, PhD, of the Technion Faculty of Chemical Engineering and the Technion Integrated Cancer Center.
Schroeder and his team created what amounts to a safe, miniature lab in each patient’s body, which examines the effectiveness of a specific drug in that individual patient.
The researchers packed miniscule quantities of anticancer drugs inside of dedicated nanoparticles they developed. The unique design of the anticancer drug-loaded nanoscale packages gives them the ability to flow in the bloodstream to the tumor, where they are swallowed by the cancer cells. Synthetic DNA sequences attached to the anticancer drugs in advance serve as barcode readers of each drug’s activity in the cancer cells.
After 48 hours a biopsy is taken from the tumor, and the barcode analysis provides accurate information about the cells that were (or were not) destroyed by each drug. In essence, the system monitors the effect of each drug on the patient’s tumor cells. The researchers are currently working with drugs registered as anticancer drugs, but in principle, they can test a battery of drugs for each patient and find out which is the most effective drug to treat his or her disease.
The new technology was patented, and there are discussions regarding its commercialization.
This article was adapted from information provided by the American Technion Society.