Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The Search for a Kinder, Gentler Chemotherapy


Painful and damaging chemotherapy may one day be a thing of the past. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University have developed nano-sized particles that can target and trick cancer cells into absorbing them. Once inside, the particles may soon be able to deliver a pharmaceutical payload, killing the tumor from within, avoiding the destruction of healthy cells responsible for much of the damage caused by traditional chemotherapy. The research is published in the August 25 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"We’ve developed a class of particles called core/shell nanogels that we can functionalize with a specific kind of chemistry that allows them to target cancer cells,” said L. Andrew Lyon, associate professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

That specific kind of chemistry is folic acid. Cancer cells have more receptors for folic acid and absorb more of the nutrient than healthy cells. In a process akin to hiding a dog’s heartworm pill in a glob of peanut butter, researchers covered the surface of the nanogels with folic acid, disguising the particles as an essential nutrient. Once the cancer cells took the particles in, researchers increased the temperature of the cells, causing the particles to clump together and shrink, killing the cell.

Heating the cell is a crucial step in triggering the particles to destroy cells, but it’s also a safeguard. Cancer cells have more folic acid receptors than normal cells, but normal cells could still absorb the nanoparticles. By applying a targeted heat source - like ultrasound - only to the tumor, doctors should be able to avoid killing healthy cells that happen to take in the nanoparticles.

“The possibility for using these nanoparticles as vehicles to target and kill only cancer cells is particularly exciting,” said Jean Chmielewski, professor of chemistry at Purdue University. “Decorating the exterior of the vehicle with folic acid is a very direct route to enter cancer cells. This type of an approach will bring cancer chemotherapy to a new level of treatment,” she said.

Traditional chemotherapy, by contrast, can be described as a shotgun approach with the cellular poisons affecting tumors and healthy cells alike. Nausea, vomiting, hair loss, anxiety and a reduction in red blood cells are just some of the side effects that can occur with chemotherapy. “If there’s a way to specifically target medicine to the site of disease, that makes this potential treatment all the more effective because then presumably you could use smaller doses and avoid the collateral damage that occurs during traditional chemotherapy,” said Lyon.

Now that they’ve gotten cancer cells to take in the nanoparticles, the next step is to see how they behave with a toxic payload. “In the lab right now we’re loading particles with anticancer agents and understanding the fundamentals of how the particles can encapsulate them, how tightly they can hold onto them and how closely we can regulate the uptake and release,” said Lyon.

David Terraso | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>