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Nanoparticles assisting with cancer drug discovery

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2018 in Science
Toronto - A new medical technology has been developed, in the form of a liquid biopsy”. This Canadian technology is designed to detect those patients who may not respond to conventional chemotherapy for prostate cancer.
The new technology comes from the University of Toronto and it involves screening for drug resistance, which is important for improving treatment approaches for many cancers, including prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the fifth leading cause of death from cancer in men worldwide. Prostate cancer is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively quickly. Here the cancer cells can spread rapidly from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones and lymph nodes.
In terms of the importance of drug screening, lead researcher Professor Shana Kelley explains to Controlled Environments magazine: “It’s important for patients not to be on a therapy that won’t help them and it’s also important for health-care systems to avoid, whenever possible, delivering ineffective treatments.”
The objective of the research was to establish a way to screen patients using a blood sample, in contrast to a conventional biopsy, which is an invasive method. In addition, the use of a blood test will deliver a result far more quickly.
The researchers devised a method based on magnetic nanoparticles together with the use of DNA capture probes on the surface. This process can target any circulating tumor cells in blood samples. This determines whether the cells contain biomarkers associated with drug resistance.
Here the magnetized cancer cells can be captured within a microfluidic device, isolating them from all the other cells. Medics can then perform analysis since the cells with the greatest magnetic content will possess high mRNA expression to the biomarker linked to drug resistance. A further series of advantages derive from the new method being described as rapid, accurate and inexpensive.
This assessment is important given that primary tumor that can inform treatment. The research also paves the way for devising a personalized screening tool that will enable medics to determine whether an individual patient will respond to particular therapy or not.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Chemistry. The research paper is titled “Single-cell mRNA cytometry via sequence-specific nanoparticle clustering and trapping.”
More about Nanotechnology, Nanoparticles, Cancer, drug discovery
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