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article imageNanoparticles used to differentiate healthy and cancerous cells

By Tim Sandle     Sep 20, 2016 in Science
Medical technologists have fashioned synthetic nanoparticles to track down cancerous cells and to enable medics to differentiate cancerous cells from healthy cells. The technique should enable better targeted treatments.
One of the problems with many types of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy together with the newer types of ‘smart’ medicines, is that the treatments can also kill healthy cells. One reason for this is that it’s difficult to differentiate cancerous cells from non-cancerous ones.
To help make this distinction clearer researchers from the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center have been experimenting with nanotechnology. This takes the form of a synthetic polymer that can transport an anti-cancer drug into lung cancer cells without affecting normal (‘healthy’) lung cells.
Lead researcher Dr. Daniel Siegwart explained the advantages to Controlled Environments magazine: “The discovery that nanoparticles can be selective to certain cells based only on their physical and chemical properties has profound implications for nanoparticle-based therapies because cell type specificity of drug carriers could alter patient outcomes in the clinic.”
The scientist, who is engaged at the UT Southwestern Medical Center adds: “At the same time, a deeper understanding of nanoparticle interactions…offers the potential to create future drug carriers customized according to individual genetic profiles.”
To create the appropriate nanoparticles the research group screened hundreds of polymers. This indicated that cells (either or cancerous or healthy) will respond differently to different drug carriers. This difference in response is the basis of the differentiation sensor. At the researchers settled on a type of polyester nanoparticle. This has the potential to create a diverse library of polymers to be used in different locations in the body. In addition, it is possible to develop nanoparticles to be used with individual patients and according to the genetic make-up of different people.
The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research paper is titled “Functional polyesters enable selective siRNA delivery to lung cancer over matched normal cells.”
More about Cancer cells, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Cancer
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