Using strands of genetic material, Purdue University scientists have constructed tiny delivery vehicles that can carry anticancer therapeutic agents directly to infected cells, offering a potential wealth of new treatments for chronic diseases.
This triangular particle, which is about 25 billionths of a meter across, could become one of nanotechnologys contributions to the fight against cancer. Three strands of RNA – a close chemical cousin of DNA – are linked together to form this "nanoparticle," created in the lab of Purdue Universitys Peixuan Guo. Each of the strands is spliced together from two kinds of RNA – one sort serves as a scaffold and dovetail to hold the particle together; while the other carries a hunter to find cancer cells, a marker to detect the target, or genetic instructions deadly to a cancer cell. The nanoparticles have already proven effective against cancer growth in living mice as well as lab-grown human nasopharlyngeal carcinoma and breast cancer cells. (Guo Laboratories)
The vehicles look nothing like delivery trucks, though that is their function once inside the body. Instead, these so-called nanoparticles, which are assembled from three short pieces of ribonucleic acid, resemble miniature triangles. The microscopic particles possess both the right size to gain entry into cells and also the right structure to carry other therapeutic strands of RNA inside with them, where they are able to halt viral growth or cancers progress. The team has already tested the nanoparticles successfully against cancer growth in mice and lab-grown human cells.
"RNA has immense promise as a therapeutic agent against cancer, but until now we have not had an efficient system to bring multiple therapeutic agents directly into specific cancer cells where they can perform different tasks," said research team leader Peixuan Guo, who is a professor of molecular virology at Purdue with joint appointments in Purdues Cancer Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "Physicians have hoped that nanotechnology might provide a solution to the problem, and its possible that the application of these tiny triangles could lead to the solution."
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
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