July 7, 2008

STOPPING CANCER SPREAD WITH NANOTECHNOLOGY:

By using tumor-targeting nanoparticles filled with chemotherapy drugs, scientists kept kidney and pancreas cancers from spreading through the bodies of mice.

In an experiment described today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers led by University of California, San Diego pathologist David Cheresh designed nanoparticles that selectively attached to a protein found on the surface of blood vessels that supply tumors with nutrients and oxygen.

The particles were loaded with doxorubicin, an effective but highly toxic anti-cancer drug with side effects ranging from white cell destruction to fatal heart disease. By targeting blood vessel cells, the researchers needed just one-fifteenth the amount used in a traditional, system-flooding dose.

“To use an analogy from warfare, we didn’t have as much collateral damage,” said Cheresh.

Such findings aren’t unique in the fast-growing field of cancer nanotech, but the researchers found something new: Although their nanoparticles didn’t affect the original tumor, they did stop the cancers from spreading through the mice. That process is known as metastasis — a word synonymous, for anyone who has experience with cancer, with doom.

Read the whole thing. And, uh, faster, please!

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