Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women affecting 1 in 8 women and studies show the average age of diagnosis in the UAE is 10 years younger than elsewhere in the world.
In efforts to fight breast cancer, Al Jalila Foundation invested in an important study with Dr Farah Benyettou from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) who is working on a drug delivery system to target the cancer directly and minimise the side effects.
Potent chemicals have long been used to fight cancer. These drugs are a vital mode of treatment, but they have a major drawback: they kill both healthy and cancerous cells, and patients who undergo chemotherapy experience serious side effects, such as hair loss and nausea.
Dr Farah Benyettou collaborated with Dr Ali Trabolsi, assistant professor of chemistry at NYUAD, to create a magnetic nanoparticle that can carry the chemotherapy drug Doxorubicin straight to tumour sites.
Breast cancer tumors tend to be accessible and localised and nanoparticles tend to naturally accumulate when injected into the bloodstream. The approach uses therapeutic magnetic nanoparticles that travel directly to the tumor when injected into the bloodstream and destroy it without damaging healthy tissues, thus avoiding the systemic toxicity usually associated with chemotherapy.
A new nanoparticle could change the future of how drug delivery systems are used, and help doctors directly target cancer cells, thus increasing the efficacy of chemotherapy and avoiding damage to healthy cells.