Nanotechnology may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the ability to control matter at the molecular level may soon give medicine new weapons to fight cancer, according to a pair of studies.
In one study, John Hopkins University researchers developed nanoparticles made of liposomes (that may contain drugs and other chemicals and can be controlled to stay in a patient's bloodstream for a given time) to deliver radioisotopes to selected areas in the body where tumors reside. But, these liposomes were designed with antibodies, immune system proteins that recognize and bind with many tiny targets, among them viruses, bacteria and human cells.
Because some antibodies specifically bind to cancer cells, these special liposomes are made to better navigate through the bloodstream and find tumors without harming healthy cells, as scientists found in their studies on the extending the lives of mice treated with aggressive metastatic breast cancer cells.
In another report, scientists from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Rice proved how multi-walled nanotubes -- long, thin sub-microscopic tubes made of carbon -- killed kidney tumors in mice with the help of a laser, compared to laser or nanotube therapy alone. In fact, kidney tumors disappeared in 80 percent of mice treated with the highest number of nanotubes exposed to laser-generated, near-infrared radiation, and many test subjects lived tumor-free to the end of the study nine months later.
Newswise.com/American Institute of Physics July 24, 2009
healthfinder.gov July 29, 2009
Science Daily August 3, 2009
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, No. 30, pp. 12459-12464, July 28, 2009