Research ArticleCancer

Nanodiamond Therapeutic Delivery Agents Mediate Enhanced Chemoresistant Tumor Treatment

Science Translational Medicine  09 Mar 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 73, pp. 73ra21
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001713

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Nanodiamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

When it comes to diamonds on the finger or ear lobes, bigger is better. However, for drug delivery, a small diamond may be the key to overcoming drug resistance in cancer. Nanodiamonds—tiny carbon particles—are biocompatible, can be scalably synthesized, and can bind therapeutic agents, features that make them a promising platform for drug delivery. Now, Chow et al. have found that binding nanodiamonds to the anticancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) improved therapeutic response and overcame chemoresistance in mouse models of mammary and liver cancer.

Believed to act by interfering with DNA synthesis, Dox is commonly used to treat a wide variety of cancers; however, many cancers become resistant to Dox during treatment due in part to efflux of the drug from the tumor cells. In an attempt to overcome tumor chemoresistance, Chow et al. conjugated Dox to nanodiamonds as a possible means of preventing the drug from being pumped out of cells. Indeed, the nanodiamond-Dox complexes were retained better by cancer cells, decreased tumor growth, and displayed less toxicity in mammary and liver cancer mouse models when compared with unconjugated Dox. The gradual release of Dox from the nanodiamonds allowed for enhanced tumor retention and efficacy, but the small size allowed for clearance before toxicity occurred in slower-dividing healthy tissues. Thus, nanodiamonds may provide a drug delivery platform that has it all—improved safety profiles and enhanced efficacy. Like their much larger predecessor, nanodiamonds are truly diamonds of Hope.


  • Citation: E. K. Chow, X.-Q. Zhang, M. Chen, R. Lam, E. Robinson, H. Huang, D. Schaffer, E. Osawa, A. Goga, D. Ho, Nanodiamond Therapeutic Delivery Agents Mediate Enhanced Chemoresistant Tumor Treatment. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 73ra21 (2011).