Imagine a cancer drug that can burrow into a tumor, seal the exits and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins, all while leaving healthy cells unscathed.

MIT researchers have designed a nanoparticle to do just that.

The dual-chamber, double-acting, drug-packing “nanocell” proved effective and safe, with prolonged survival, against two distinct forms of cancers-melanoma and Lewis lung cancer-in mice.

Just one of a number of new medical technologies and techniques in current research, this is a leading example of nanoscience combining with oncology.

The team loaded the outer membrane of the nanocell with an anti-angiogenic drug and the inner balloon with chemotherapy agents. A “stealth” surface chemistry allows the nanocells to evade the immune system, while their size (200 nanometers) makes them preferentially taken into the tumor. They are small enough to pass through tumor vessels, but too large for the pores of normal vessels.

Once the nanocell is inside the tumor, its outer membrane disintegrates, rapidly deploying the anti-angiogenic drug. The blood vessels feeding the tumor then collapse, trapping the loaded nanoparticle in the tumor, where it slowly releases the chemotherapy.

I wonder if we could construct a variation that sneaks common sense into the brains of politicians?

  1. Miguel Lopes says:

    I’m a bit more pessimistic than some… Unfortunately I still regard cancer as something of a death sentence, my dad habing died from it.

    I read of many therapies and ‘cures’, but few, if any, seem to have filtered down to the daily treatment of ‘common’ cancer patients. These are still left with 20th century options such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with all their ill side-effects – my dad in fact opted to live the rest of his life as best as he could and not do chemo, simply because of the great decrease in quality of life and the little perceived benefit he would get from it. Why suffer so much for just a couple weeks (months, whatever) more of life time? Cancer patients lives SUCK bigtime. It seems to me we could be doing more to address that, but we aren’t, or we’re too slow…

    I can’t understand why we aren’t much, MUCH more aggressive in our fight against this set of diseases, and why progress is so slow.

  2. Jim Dermitt says:

    The firefly protein is used for tracking the virus. I wonder if it changes it at all.


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