Nanospheres Targeting Cancer at MIT

Posted on April 15, 2006  Comments (1)

Nanospheres targeting cancer cells

Single-Shot Chemo – Nanospheres that target cancer cells and gradually release drugs could make treatment safer and more effective

Photo – Three prostate cancer cells have taken up fluorescently labeled nanoparticles (shown in red). The cells’ nuclei and cytoskeletons are stained blue and green, respectively. By Omid Farokhzad and Robert Langer at MIT.

A key to the nanoparticles’ effectiveness is the ability of their RNA strands to bind to a cancer cell membrane. The cell then pulls the particles inside. Having the particles inside the cell has two advantages: it gets the drug where it needs to be to kill the cells, and it decreases the concentration of the drug outside the cancer cells, thereby decreasing toxicity to healthy tissue. The fact that the polymer releases the drug gradually also helps — the drug is released over the hours or days it takes for the particles to be pulled into cells, where it continues to be released, killing the cells.

Eventually, the MIT-Harvard researchers hope to design nanoparticles that can be injected into the bloodstream, from which they could seek out cancer cells anywhere in the body, making it possible to treat late-stage metastasized cancer. “Even though this represents a small percentage of patients that actually have the disease, these are the ones that have no therapeutic option available to them,” Farokhzad says.

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One Response to “Nanospheres Targeting Cancer at MIT”

  1. Curious Cat Science: Global Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030
    December 9th, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

    Curing millions of cancer patients 20 years from now will be very hard. but it isn’t hard to “cure” millions of them today. We just need people not to pay a lot of money to give themselves cancer by smoking…

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