Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New cancer weapon: nuclear nanocapsules

28.08.2007
Nanotubes packing powerful alpha-emitters could target lone cancer cells

Rice University chemists have found a way to package some of nature's most powerful radioactive particles inside DNA-sized tubes of pure carbon -- a method they hope to use to target tiny tumors and even lone leukemia cells.

"There are no FDA-approved cancer therapies that employ alpha-particle radiation," said lead researcher Lon Wilson, professor of chemistry. "Approved therapies that use beta particles are not well-suited for treating cancer at the single-cell level because it takes thousands of beta particles to kill a lone cell. By contrast, cancer cells can be destroyed with just one direct hit from an alpha particle on a cell nucleus."

The study's results are available online and slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Small.

... more about:
»Alpha »Radiation »Radioactive »Wilson »beta »decay

In the study, Wilson, Rice graduate student Keith Hartman, University of Washington (UW) radiation oncologist Scott Wilbur and UW research scientist Donald Hamlin, developed and tested a process to load astatine atoms inside short sections of carbon nanotubes. Because astatine is the rarest naturally occurring element on Earth -- with less than a teaspoon estimated to exist in the Earth's crust at any given time -- the research was conducted using astatine created in a UW cyclotron.

Astatine, like radium and uranium, emits alpha particles via radioactive decay. Alpha particles, which contain two protons and two neutrons, are the most massive particles emitted as radiation. They are about 4,000 times more massive than the electrons emitted by beta decay -- the type of radiation most commonly used to treat cancer.

"It's something like the difference between a cannon shell and a BB," Wilson said. "The extra mass increases the amount of damage alpha particles can inflict on cancer cells."

The speed of radioactive particles is also an important factor in medical use. Beta particles travel very fast. This, combined with their small size, gives them significant penetrating power. In cancer treatment, for example, beams of beta particles can be created outside the patient's body and directed at tumors. Alpha particles move much more slowly, and because they are also massive, they have very little penetrating power. They can be stopped by something as flimsy as tissue paper.

"The unique combination of low penetrating power and large particle mass make alpha particle ideal for targeting cancer at the single-cell level," Wilson said. "The difficulty in developing ways to use them to treat cancer has come in finding ways to deliver them quickly and directly to the cancer site."

In prior work, Wilson and colleagues developed techniques to attach antibodies to carbon fullerenes like nanotubes. Antibodies are proteins produced by white blood cells. Each antibody is designed to recognize and bind only with a specific antigen, and doctors have identified a host of cancer-specific antibodies that can be used to kill cancer cells.

In follow-up research, Wilson hopes to test the single-celled cancer targeting approach by attaching cancer-specific antibodies to astatine-loaded nanotubes.

One complicating factor in any astatine-based cancer therapy will be the element's short, 7.5-hour half-life. In radioactive decay, the term half-life refers to the time required for any quantity of a substance to decay by half its initial mass. Due to astatine's brief half-life, any treatment must be delivered in a timely way, before the particles lose their potency.

Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

Further reports about: Alpha Radiation Radioactive Wilson beta decay

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>