The complex tumour structure makes the treatment of breast cancer a medical challenge. A promising, novel selenium-based breast cancer nanoparticle therapy by the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) together with other partners in the EU-project Neosetac could change that: It has proved to boost the active agent delivery and assure it's active only in the target tissue while also bringing the suggestion of reduced side effects. The project findings are expected to increase the efficiency of future chemotherapies and prevent recurrence of the cancer after complete remission.
The European Chronic Disease Alliance defines cancer as the biggest non-communicable illness of our time causing 13% of global deaths. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer; it accounts for more than 10.4% of all cancer in women and causes approximately 400.000 deaths per year globally.
It is mainly the complex tumour structure that makes a successful and targeted treatment of breast cancer a major challenge for medicine. Various approaches and substances have proven to be effective, among others selenium, a trace element that is an essential for human nutrition. Due to its mechanism of action, selenium inhibits and/or reduces the progression of the disease and activates the body's immune system and defence cells.
"Selenium is usually given in the form of dietary supplements in the concomitant treatment in addition to chemotherapy or radiation", says Alexandra Herrero-Rollet. Together with her colleague Doris Ribitsch, the scientist of the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) in Tulln (Lower Austria), is using selenium not only to prevent or treat unwanted side effects of cancer therapies, but now for the first time also as a tumour therapy it its own right: In the Neosetac project, a consortium of five EU partners from industry and academy is developing a new selenium-based nanoparticle therapy for breast cancer.
Improved effect and delivery
To date, the use and the related effect of selenium compounds has been limited for several reasons including the relatively short half-life in the human body, the complex chemical structure that need special formulation for drug delivery, and because of the need for precise dosage, as high doses of selenium have a toxic effect and may entail undesired side effects.
A very promising concept for improving the delivery of the drug and enhancing its effect within the narrow therapeutic window of cancer therapies has now been generated: The scientists designed bio-degradable nanoparticles (NPs) containing selenium to enhance the therapeutically efficacy.
Nanoparticles for targeted tumour therapy
To keep the selenium compound stable during transport, the biotechnologists coat the active substance with tiny biological capsules, also referred to as nanocapsules. By means of this method – first employed by Patrick Couvreur, a scientist from Paris, in 1979 – the drug is gradually released via the body’s metabolic cycle, ensuring a more precise effect. "The concrete example of Neosetac showed that human serum albumin can be a suitable material for the production of nanocapsules in the future", Ribitsch explains.
The concentration of this protein found in blood is significantly reduced in breast cancer patients, especially in the malignant tissue. To achieve a protein balance, the body transports the introduced serum protein to the tissue via osmotic pressure.
Active drug targeting
The scientists use active drug targeting to ensure that the selenium compounds act only in the tumour lesions or metastases and not in the healthy tissue: Using enzymes and biotechnological methods, the Human serum albumin-nanocapsules are "equipped" with antibodies through covalent bonding. As modern biomarkers they transport drugs via the blood only to the desired target tissue where they bond with the proteins on the tumour cells and initiate apoptosis (cellular death).
Therapy success increased, side effects reduced
With the new, selenium-based nanoparticle therapy method, the experts expect more successful therapies, better tolerance of drugs and a significant reduction in side effects. The research findings are anticipated to increase the efficiency of future chemotherapies and prevent recurrence after complete remission. In the following years, Neosetac's objective is to transfer the initial promising results obtained with two powerful compounds from the production phase to the clinical trial phase.
About the project
The project Neosetac (New Selenium-based Targeted Nanocapsules to treat Breast Cancer) with a four-year duration and a budget of more than 500.000€ is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 778325. The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) participates in the project leaded by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), together with the project partners Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital from Stockholm (Sweden), AntibodyBCN S.L. from Barcelona (Spain) and the Austrian Drug Screening Institute (ADSI) from Innsbruck (Austria).
The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) develops new processes for industry (the biotech, chemistry and pharmaceutical sectors) that are more economically friendly and economically efficient. In its work, the centre of competence takes nature and its methods as a role model and uses nature's tools. acib, a non-profit organisation, is an international research centre for industrial biotechnology and operates institutions in Graz, Innsbruck, Tulln, Vienna (AUT), Bielefeld, Heidelberg and Hamburg (GER) and Pavia (ITA), Canterbury (NZL) and Taiwan (CHN). 150+ universities and companies are part of this partnership cooperation, including renowned representatives such as BASF, DSM, Sandoz, Boehringer Ingelheim RCV, Jungbunzlauer and VTU Technology.
250+ acib researchers and scientists are currently involved in more than 175 research projects.
The owners of acib are the universities of Graz and Innsbruck, Graz University of Technology, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) and Joanneum Research. acib is funded as a K2 research centre within the framework of COMET (Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies) by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Research, and the provinces of Styria, Vienna, Lower Austria and Tyrol. The COMET programme is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).
Dr. Doris Ribitsch
Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) (+43) 1 47654 97487
MA Martin Walpot | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography
17.09.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
Too much of a good thing: overactive immune cells trigger inflammation
16.09.2019 | Universität Basel
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.
Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.
If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
29.08.2019 | Event News
17.09.2019 | Materials Sciences
17.09.2019 | Health and Medicine
17.09.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation