March 15 (UPI) -- A study at Penn State College of Medicine suggests a new medication delivering a combination of drugs may aid in melanoma treatment.
The medication, CelePlum-777, combines a specific ratio of the drug Celecoxib, an anti-inflammatory, with the toxin Plumbagin in a nanoparticle. The combination makes it difficult for cells to overcome the effect of having more than one active ingredient.
"Loading multiple drugs into nanoparticles is one innovative approach to deliver multiple cancer drugs to a particular site where they need to act, and have them released at that optimal cancer cell-killing ratio," Raghavendra Gowda, assistant professor of pharmacology at Penn State, said in a press release. "Another advantage is that by combining the drugs, lower concentrations of each that are more effective and less toxic can be used."
Celecoxib and Plumbagin cannot be taken orally because they do not enter the body well through the stomach and are toxic to the patient if taken at the ratio needed.
So researchers used nanoparticles to deliver the drugs directly into the cancer cells through an intravenous injection without toxicity. The drug combination's small size allows it to accumulate inside tumors where it releases the drugs to kill the cancer.
The study was conducted on laboratory mice with results showing CelePlum-777 prevented tumor development with no detectable side effects and prevented proteins from enabling uncontrolled cancer cell growth.
"This drug is the first of a new class, loaded with multiple agents to more effectively kill melanoma cells, that has potential to reduce the possibility of resistance development," said Gavin Robertson, professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology and surgery, and director of the Penn State Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center. "There is no drug like it in the clinic today and it is likely that the next breakthrough in melanoma treatment will come from a drug like this one."