When the scientists combined the nanoparticles with immunotherapy, the tumor cells died and did not return.
To confirm the results, the scientists injected the mice with new tumor cells. The mice’s immune systems immediately destroyed the new tumor cells.
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first time that metal oxides [have been used] to efficiently fight cancer cells with long lasting immune effects in live models,” Prof. Soenen says. “As a next step, we want to create other metal nanoparticles and identify which particles affect which types of cancer. This should result in a comprehensive database.”
Results derived from animal testing do not necessarily work when it comes to humans, and to take the research further, the team intends to test the treatment on human tumor cells. If that is successful, they will conduct a clinical trial.
However, according to Prof. Soenen, there are still several hurdles along the way:
“Nanomedicine is on the rise in the United States and Asia, but Europe is lagging behind. It’s a challenge to advance in this field because doctors and engineers often speak a different language. We need more interdisciplinary collaboration so that we can understand each other better and build upon each other’s knowledge.”