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Really exciting stuff - Nanoparticle Cancer Drug Delivery

Paul Edwards

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"Perhaps the answer to curing cancer is not finding new drugs but finding better ways of delivering the existing drugs that we already have." - Dr Mauro Ferrari, President, Houston Methodist Research Institute


Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute have invented a method that makes nanoparticles inside the cancer cell and releases the drug particles at the site of the nucleus of the cancer cell.


At this stage there have only been trials in mice.  They're just about to start clinical trials in humans.


Whilst the research involved breast cancer which had metastasised to the lungs, the researchers hope that the drug could cure lung metastases from other origins (eg prostate cancer).


Click on this link to read about this research.


Nanoparticles are particles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size.  One million nanometers equal one millimetre!

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More nanotechnology research from Georgia State University.


A protein in the body, PAK-1, is like an on/off switch.  When it turns on, it makes cancerous cells turn into metastatic cells that spread throughout the body.


The researchers developed a way to package and administer a small molecule called IPA-3, which limits the activity of PAK-1 proteins.  They enveloped the IPA-3 molecule in a bubble-like structure called a liposome and injected it intravenously into mice.  The liposome shell surrounding IPA-3 ensured that it was not metabolized by the body too quickly, allowing the inhibitor enough time to disrupt the PAK-1 protein.


The preliminary results suggest that IPA-3 might be a viable treatment for prostate cancer in humans, but a lot more work must be done before human clinical trials can begin.



University of Georgia. "Potential new treatment for prostate cancer."  ScienceDaily, 21 March 2016.

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Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, have developed an approach which can alert them to the death of cancer cells the moment a therapy begins to work at the cellular level, not weeks or months after treatment results are reflected on a scan.


Their technique uses a nano-particle that delivers the cancer therapy and also glows green if cancer cells die. This process provides immediate feedback to see if a tumor cell is resistant or susceptible to a specific treatment agent.


Like all these things, they haven't done human trials yet.



Click here to read a report by Joel Nowak of Malecare about this research.

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