Medical nanotechnology is one of the fields right on the forefront of the fight against cancer. Nanobiotix, a leading industry giant, is hoping to bring out a new form of cancer treatment, and so far results look promising.
NBTXR3 is an “aqueous suspension of nanoparticles” containing inert inorganic hafnium oxide (HfO2) crystals, “designed to penetrate cancer cells and remain within the tumor”. The procedure involves administering an intratumoral injection that allows the nanoparticles to accumulate within the abnormal cells. Radiation is them applied to the tissue, causing the HfO2 particles to emit high amounts of electrons, killing the cancerous formation.
For the Nanobiotix trials, phase I was conducted in order to determine the recommended dosage. 18 patients received either 15% or 22% doses, with a 12-month cut-off date. At both 12 and 23 month follow-ups, all patients were alive, the only patient fatality being at 26 months.
The treatment was designed to work on a wide variety of cancers, including solid tumors, prostate cancer, liver, breast. Phase II is focusing on head and neck cancer with locally advanced squamous cell carcinomas.
The nanoparticles offer a series of advantages over standard courses, the first being that it requires only the one initial injection. They also provide longer circulation time, better penetration into cellular membranes and can carry a series of different compounds. Overall, the procedure is much more targetable and safer on the patient.
Several other trials are running at the moment across the world, testing for possible effects on esophageal cancer, glioblastoma, and cervical cancer.