Radiation therapy, macrophages improve efficacy of nanoparticle-delivered cancer therapy

Medical Xpress – A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified a surprising new role for the immune cells called macrophages—improving the effectiveness of nanoparticle-delivered cancer therapies. In their Science Translational Medicine report, the investigators describe finding how appropriately timed radiation therapy can improve the delivery of cancer nanomedicines as much as 600 percent by attracting macrophages to tumor blood vessels, which results in a transient "burst" of leakage from capillaries into the tumor.

"The field of nanomedicine has worked to improve selective  delivery to tumors for over a decade, typically by engineering ever more advanced nanomaterials and often with mixed clinical success," says lead author Miles Miller, PhD, of the MGH Center for Systems Biology. "Rather than focusing on the nanoparticles themselves, we used in vivo microscopy to discover how to rewire the structure of the tumor itself to more efficiently accumulate a variety of nanomedicines already in clinical use."

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