Scientists are on track to devise a revolutionary cancer treatment that could spare patients from toxic,whole-body chemotherapies.
Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have engineered new nanoparticles that could someday target and destroy cancer tumors,without patients having to undergo the painful chemotherapies.
The team of researchers,led by J. Manuel Perez,used Taxol-carrying nanoparticles only to the cancer cells,allowing targeted cancer treatment without harming healthy cells. This is achieved by attaching a vitamin (folic acid) derivative that cancer cells like to consume in high amounts.
“Our work is an important beginning,because it demonstrates an avenue for using nanotechnology not only to diagnose but also to treat cancer,potentially at an early stage,” said Perez,who works at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center and Chemistry Department and in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine.
The nanoparticles also can be engineered without the drug and used as imaging (contrast) agents for cancer. If there is no cancer,the biodegradable nanoparticles will not bind to the tissue and will be eliminated by the liver. The iron oxide core will be utilized as regular iron in the body,the Science Daily online reported.
“Although the results from the cell cultures are preliminary,they are very encouraging,” stressed Puerto Rico native Perez,an Assistant Professor at the university.
A new chemistry called “click chemistry” was utilized to attach the targeting molecule (folic acid) to the nanoparticles. This chemistry allows for the easy and specific attachment of molecules to nanoparticles without unwanted side products. It also allows for the easy attachment of other molecules to nanoparticles to specifically seek out particular tumors and other malignancies,a UCF release said.
As the nanoparticles also carry a fluorescent dye and an iron oxide magnetic core,their locations within the cells and the body can be seen by optical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). That allows a physician to see how the tumor is responding to the treatment,it said.