Nanodiamonds promise to play a significant role in improving cancer treatment by limiting uncontrolled exposure of toxic drugs to the body. The research team reports that aggregated clusters of nanodiamonds were shown to be ideal for carrying a chemotherapy drug and shielding it from normal cells so as not to kill them, releasing the drug slowly only after it reached its cellular target.

Another advantage of the material, confirmed by a series of genetic studies also reported in the paper, is that nanodiamonds do not cause cell inflammation once the drug has been released and only bare diamonds are left. Materials currently used for drug delivery can cause inflammation, a serious complication that can predispose a patient to cancer, block the activity of cancer drugs and even promote tumour growth.

“There are a lot of materials that can deliver drugs well, but we need to look at what happens after drug delivery,” said Dean Ho, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, who led the research.

To make the material effective, Ho and his colleagues manipulated single nanodiamonds, each only two nanometres in diameter, to form aggregated clusters of nanodiamonds, ranging from 50 to 100 nanometres in diameter. The drug, loaded onto the surface of the individual diamonds, is not active when the nanodiamonds are aggregated; it only becomes active when the cluster reaches its target, breaks apart and slowly releases the drug.

“The nanodiamond cluster provides a powerful release in a localized place - an effective but less toxic delivery method,” said co-author Eric Pierstorff, a molecular biologist and post-doctoral fellow in Ho’s research group. Because of the large amount of available surface area, the clusters can carry a large amount of drug, nearly five times the amount of drug carried by conventional materials.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Northwestern University