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article imageOp-Ed: Surprising no-drug anti-cancer research delivers great results

By Paul Wallis     Sep 29, 2020 in Science
Singapore - Chemotherapy and other heavy-duty treatments can do only so much. A novel method using nanomaterials to deliver cellular self-destruct messages to cancerous growths is looking very good.
Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTUS) has been working on this methodology and getting surprising results. It’s early days yet, but it works as well as chemo on breast, skin, and gastric cancer cells in mice, killing around 80% of cells.
That’s a particularly good outcome, and also of course drastically reduces the size of growths. There are none of the side effects of chemotherapy, another very important major plus.
Self-destruct signals to cells are a long-established fact. These signals trigger a process which destroys specific cells. It’s a good body defence mechanism, eliminating dangerous tissue. As therapy, the dream has been to harness this ability to use it as a weapon against diseases.
In treating cancers, the high impacts of chemo and radiation are major, sometimes serious, limiting factors. A treatment method with no side effects can do a lot of good. Patients are put under less stress and much less physical strain, both of which can be counterproductive.
That’s the ultra-significant bit - Now, finally, using the unintrusive self-destruct method is looking very feasible with this new method. What could be a new ballgame is opening up with the success of the NTUS research.
The NTUS research – Overview
The NTUS method delivers nanoparticles coated in L-phenylalanine, an amino acid. These things are called nanoscopic porous amino acid mimics (Nano‐PAAM) designed to target the dangerous cells. They hit “overexpressed” amino acid transporters to access rogue cells.
This is a very sound basic principle for targeting any type of cell. It can only affect the dangerous cells. Normal cells don’t use those “overexpressed” channels and tumours depend on the amino acids for growth, so the aminos are processed automatically.
The fact that the treatment works on multiple types of tissue is also very significant. It might be a very straightforward fundamental all-rounder approach to so many problems, with minimal risk.
The future
It’s far too early to make predictions. The overall direction and success of the research by NTUS does look promising. The future is looking a lot better in so many ways. A safe, non-toxic methodology is a truly drastic improvement.
Another, perhaps even more important outcome of this research is creating a good pathway to test cellular self-destruct methods in practice. The theory has always been good; now, it seems there’s a reliable way of doing it in perhaps thousands of pathological contexts.
Could it work on TB and malaria, attacking these very stubborn diseases at cellular level? Can it be applied to progressive diseases like MS, MND, Huntington’s Disease, etc.? If so, this is where medicine wins a few wars.
This could just be the beginning of a treatment regime which is safe, fast, highly efficient, and non-invasive. It can be a life saver for some of the world’s most vulnerable people and one of the world’s most hideous medical conditions.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Nanyang Technological University in S, NTUS, Lphenylalanine nanoparticle coating, apoptosis, chemotherapy alternatives
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