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Nano-Technology Used to Fight Cancer - Researchers Use Nano-Particles That Are Able to Kill Tumor Cells - Nanoparticles Target Tumors

Nano-Technology Used to Fight Cancer - Researchers Use Nano-Particles That Are Able to Kill Tumor Cells - Nanoparticles Target Tumors

Polymersome

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have effectively used nano-particles to kill breast cancer tumors along with chemotherapeutics. These tiny particles contain a hollow shell that can be filled with chemicals used to kill tumors.  The two potent chemicals used were paclitaxel, the leading cancer drug known by brand names such as Taxol, and doxorubicin.  This technique allowed the particles to move directly to the tumors implanted in mice.

This technique of drug-delivery is better than previous methods.  Dennis Discher, professor in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of Penn's newly established Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics said, “The system provides a number of advantages over other Trojan horse-style drug delivery system, and should prove a useful tool in fighting a number of diseases.  Here we show that drug-delivering polymersomes will break down in the acidic environment of the cancer cells, allowing us to target these drugs within tumor cells."

 

Michael F. Klein and Goundla Srinivas of Penn's Department of Chemistry used a supercomputer to simulate and develop a “molecular mechanism” involved in putting pores into the cancer cell’s membranes. 

According to the researchers, while cell membranes and liposomes (vesicles often used for drug-delivery) are created from a double layer of fatty molecules called phospholipids, a polymersome is comprised of two layers of synthetic polymers. The individual polymers are degradable and considerably larger than individual phospholipids but have many of the same chemical features. This results in a structure that looks like a very small cell or virus.

They were able to take advantage of the polymersome properties to carry their drug combination to the tumor.  The polymersome and drug combinations are “self-assembling” when mixed together.  The compounds form spontaneously when all the components are suitably mixed together.  First, the large polymers make up the sell allowing paclitaxel, which is water-insoluble, to embed within the shell. Doxorubicin, which is water-soluble, stays within the interior of the polymersome until it degrades.

 

Combining these two drugs leads to better tumor regression, than either drug alone.  The problem has been getting the drug to the tumor.  Fariyal Ahmed, the lead author, former doctoral student in bioengineering,and now a fellow at Harvard Medical School. Said, "Polymersomes get around those limitations."

Discher developed polymersomes with Penn bioengineer Daniel Hammer in the 1990s. The Discher lab is further studying the drug- and gene-delivery capabilities of polymersomes, tailoring their shapes, sizes, loading and degradability to each application. Discher theorizes that polymersomes could be made capable of traveling to places in the body that are difficult for most drug-carrier systems to access.

 
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By Dan Wilson
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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.
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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM