Researchers from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ), a joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), have developed and patented a new nanomedicine for the diagnosis and treatment (theranostic system) of prostate cancer, based on the use of porous organic nanoparticles COFs –-de covalent organic frameworks–- which stands out for being more efficient and less aggressive than chemotherapy conventional.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among European men, as pointed out by the CSIC. Its incidence exceeds 100 cases per 100,000 individuals. In addition, it is currently the second most common cause of death for cancer in men.

Through specific antigen-antibody interactions allows the selective destruction of cancer cells in the prostate gland and local lymph nodes. It is composed of a COF nanoparticle in which the molecule of a therapeutic agent is inserted, in this case it is docetaxel, the most used drug for the treatment of prostate cancer resistant to hormone therapy, an anti-FOLH1 monoclonal antibody, which selectively interacts with prostate cancer cell FOLH1 membrane receptors and an imaging agent, usually a radionuclide for positron emission tomography (PET).

The protocol of administration of theranostic nanomedicine, since it is intratumorally, which limits its incidence in the rest of the body, minimizing the side effects of docetaxel: it solves the toxicity problems generated by intravenous administration of docetaxel, whose high systemic toxicity it limits both the dose and the duration of therapy, which significantly reduces its antitumor efficacy.

“With our nanomedicine, the required dose is lower than chemotherapy conventional and its therapeutic effect is greater. In in vitro studies on prostate cancer cells, the system has managed to improve the antitumor activity of docetaxel up to 15 times “, pointed out Pablo Botella, a researcher at the CSIC at the Institute of Chemical Technology.

The theranostic system also allows the identification of tumor cells and their destruction at the same time, which helps to follow the evolution of the cancer and the specificity of the treatment simultaneously.

All this is possible thanks to the use of a directing molecule, to specific receptors on tumor cells and the PET imaging technique, which helps to locate malignant tissue in the prostate with single-celled precision, which facilitates the diagnosis of the disease in its early stages.

In addition, you can monitor release of therapeutic agent for hours or days, and the nanoparticle used, of 100% organic composition and completely biodegradable – unlike others of an inorganic or hybrid nature -, which facilitates its complete elimination.