Thursday, 14 September 2023
Researchers have discovered a new way to target and kill cancer cells in hard-to-treat brain tumours using electrically charged molecules to trigger self-destruction, that could be developed into a spray treatment used during surgery.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Nottingham, led by the School of Pharmacy found a new way to harness the extraordinary capabilities of bio-nanoantennae—gold nanoparticles intricately coated with specialised redox active molecules to induce programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells on electrical stimulation. The research has been published today in Nature Nanotechnology.
The research focuses on patient-derived Glioblastoma cells, an elusive and formidable form of brain cancer that has long evaded effective treatment. The five-year survival rate for glioblastoma is only 6.8% and the average length if survival for patients is estimated to be only 8 months from diagnosis.
The bio-nanoantennae were able to specifically target glioblastoma cells, leaving healthy cells unscathed. This unprecedented level of precision opens up new possibilities for developing treatment for Glioblastoma during surgical resection of the tumour, when the bio-nanoantennae would be sprayed or injected.
The researchers, which included experts from the Schools of Engineering, Physics and Medicine have now established what is thought to be the first ‘quantum therapeutic’, which taps into the potential of quantum signalling to combat cancer.
The team showed that cancer cells succumb to the intricate dance of electrons, orchestrated by the enchanting world of quantum biology. With the advent of bio-nanoantennae, this vision of real-world quantum therapies edge closer to reality. By precisely modulating quantum biological electron tunnelling, these ingenious nanoparticles create a symphony of electrical signals that trigger the cancer cells' natural self-destruction mechanism.
The team has now secured MRC impact acceleratory funding, have filed patent, to begin translating the technology to this eventual clinical application. Further rigorous research and validation are essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of bio-nanoantennae for human use.
Treating Glioblastoma tumours has long presented challenges for clinicians and prognosis for patients is still poor, which is why any research showing the promise of a new effective treatment is hugely exciting. This research has shown the possibilities presented by quantum therapeutics as a new technology to communicate with biology. The fusion of quantum bioelectronics and medicine brings us one step closer to a new treatment paradigm for disease.
More information is available from Dr Frankie Rawson on Frankie.Rawson@nottingham.ac.uk
Notes to editors:
About the University of Nottingham
Ranked in the Top 100 globally and 17th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.
The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.