Could Nanoparticles Be the Future of Brain Cancer Treatment?

A group of researchers at University of Queensland (UQ)Australia recently developed an innovative nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that could help address some of the challenges associated with drug delivery for certain brain cancers.

Image Credit: Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/

Effectively treating brain cancer presents a series of challenges. For example, certain chemotherapy drugs have high toxicity and have a limited lifespan in the blood. Therefore, developing new technologies to deliver such drugs is critical to ensure patients get the most out of the therapeutic effects of the drugs.

Published in Controlled Release Journal, the team describes how they created silica nanoparticles that can carry temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug typically used to treat malignant gliomas or glioblastomas.

Loaded nanoparticles

Temozolomide was first approved for use in the EU and United States in 1999 and has been shown to be an effective treatment for treating malignant tumors when consistently exposed to the treatment site. However, achieving these successes is also one of the major challenges facing medical professionals.

These chemotherapy drugs have limitations – they don’t last long in the blood, they can be pushed out of the brain, and they don’t have a high penetration from the blood to the brain.

Dr Taskeen Janjua, University of Queensland

By loading the silica nanoparticles with temozolomide, the team was able to create a more efficient drug delivery system.

To make these drugs more effective, we developed ultra-small and large porous nanoparticles to help them move through the blood-brain barrier and penetrate tumors while reducing unwanted patient side effects.

Dr Taskeen Janjua, University of Queensland

In the trial, the team used multi-cellular 3D spheroids to mimic the responses and interactions in brain tumor cells when exposed to loaded silica nanoparticles. The team found that this system has the potential to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and deliver temozolomide directly into the tumor.

Improving Brain Cancer Treatment Strategies

Improving the ability to treat malignant glioblastoma is very important because it is one of the most aggressive and common forms of brain cancer with no known specific cause. In most cases, the probability is relatively high that the patient will go into remission due to the nature of these tumors and the limitations of current drug delivery systems.

However, the team claims that this breakthrough approach can not only increase the delivery of temozolomide but can also increase the potential for long-term recovery as it may even prevent the cancer from returning.

The UQ team found that the nanoparticle drug delivery system also enhances the cytotoxic efficacy of temozolomide against malignant glioblastoma cells.

In addition, while treating their animal test model, the team found that the silica nanoparticles were able to reach the brains of mice in just a few hours and had no negative impact on other major organs in the body.

This innovative drug delivery system has the potential to increase the effectiveness of brain cancer treatment and could lead to new and better treatments for this deadly disease.

Popat, Associate Professor, University of Queensland

Although brain cancer is not the most common form, it can be devastating because of its lower probability of survival than other types of cancer, with a probability of survival more than five years after diagnosis of less than 23%.1

While the UQ team says more research is needed to further develop silica-based nanoparticle drug delivery systems, the results are promising.

This preclinical research will accelerate future clinical development of this promising healthcare technology and further improve outcomes for patients with brain cancer.

Popat, Associate Professor, University of Queensland

References and Further Reading

  1. Nanoparticles provide brain cancer treatment (2023) UQ News. Available in:

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