Due tra i più grossi problemi nella lotta al cancro sono la difficoltà nell’intervenire in modo specifico sul tumore e la resistenza che il tumore stesso sviluppa contro le terapie. Uno studio in cui hanno collaborato il MIT, l’Harvard Medical school e la Queen Mary University of London potrebbe aver finalmente trovato la soluzione: nanoparticelle d’oro bioingegnerizzate.

Morgagni identificava la patologia nell’organo, e il suo approccio, ancora parzialmente valido, rimase incontrastato finché Virchow non elaborò la teoria cellulare. La storia insegna che la medicina sta diventando sempre di più medicina di precisione (si veda l’attualissima evoluzione della “Precision Medicine Initiative“) e grazie alla continua evoluzione della scienza possiamo affermare di essere entrati nell’era delle nanotecnologie. Oltre alle svariate conoscenze rese possibili da un approccio molecolare i medici hanno ora a disposizione l’enorme potere offerto dalle nanoparticelle.

Esistono molti tipi di nanoparticelle: quelle d’oro, in particolare, hanno la straordinaria caratteristica di poter essere sintetizzate in laboratorio in tantissime varianti diverse. Alla struttura sferica della particella vera e propria si può aggiungere un contenuto interno, che la particella rilascia solo in particolari condizioni, e un rivestimento formato da acidi nucleici o proteine, utili per il riconoscimento del target ed altre funzioni associate.

Lo studio in questione si è concentrato sul contrastare la resistenza che i tumori sviluppano nei confronti delle terapie farmacologiche. I tumori resistenti, infatti, iperesprimono una proteina definita MRP-1 che agisce da pompa, liberando il tumore da qualsiasi sostanza a lui estranea: nel caso particolare i farmaci antitumorali. L’alto numero di pompe e la loro efficienza non permettono al farmaco di compiere il suo dovere rendendo così superfluo ogni tentativo di cura.

I ricercatori hanno quindi sviluppato un processo per legare alla nanoparticella particolari sequenze nucleotidiche in grado di aderire selettivamente al frammento di mRNA codificante per la proteina MRP-1, bloccandola definitivamente. Una volta che il sistema di difesa tumorale è stato bloccato la nanoparticella può iniziare a rilasciare il suo contenuto. In tal modo, non solo il farmaco arriva selettivamente alle cellule interessate ma può svolgere la sua funzione senza essere immediatamente allontanato.

Ribadendo la grande versatilità delle nanoparticelle, i ricercatori sono stati in grado di accostare al farmaco antitumorale marcatori diagnostici; in questo modo il medico sarebbe in grado di monitorare la situazione momento per momento senza interventi troppo invasivi. La valutazione permetterebbe di stabilire la condizione iniziale ma soprattutto l’esito della terapia, consentendo quindi eventuali modificazioni della stessa.

I risultati delle prime sperimentazioni sono incoraggianti. In modelli animali con tumori al seno difficili da trattare la somministrazione di fluorouracile tramite nanoparticelle ha ridotto la massa del 90% in due settimane. Considerate queste ottime premesse e la possibilità effettiva di modulare il trattamento adeguandolo alle caratteristiche più specifiche del singolo tumore, le nanoparticelle stanno diventando uno strumento sempre più importante in medicina, sia dal punto di vista diagnostico che terapico.

Voi cosa ne pensate? Assisteremo presto ad una nuova corsa all’oro?

Fonte | PubMed 

Redazione | Nato a Como il 26 Febbraio 1994, frequento il terzo anno del corso di Laurea Magistrale in Medicina e Chirurgia dell'Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca. Diffido di chi crede che la Medicina sia esclusivamente Curativa e, nel mio piccolo, cerco di dimostrare il contrario anche in questa sede: it's not about curing, it's just about caring.

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