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Scientists fish for tumors with nanoworms.

Another nanoscale anti-cancer device has arrived on the growing scene. Similar to MIT's sticky nanoparticles, the new treatment would involve a sticky "nanoworm." The particles, developed jointly by scientists at the Universities of California at San Diego and Santa Barbara along with MIT, resembles a gummi worm made of small spheres.

The worms are made from spherical nanoparticles of iron oxide, joined together and coated with a polymer derived from dextran. Each worm consists of eight nanoparticles and measures approximately 30 nanometers in length. That makes them about three million times smaller than their earthworm brethren.

There are multiple advantages in using the new nanoworms over single particle approaches for locating and delivering cancer destroying drugs directly to tumors. The structure allows the worms to slip through the bloodstream with less opposition than single particles, which are more easily detected and driven out by the body's immune system functions. This keeps them in the body longer, giving them more time to find targets.

Another advantage is the amount of anti-cancer toxins a single worm can carry versus a single particle. Obviously by having more surface area, more toxins could be attached, thus serving target tumors a more lethal dose. Not only could more drug be attached, but more of the peptide which causes the particles to stick to the tumors, called F3, can share the surface, making them more likely to lock on when a tumor is located.

Yet another is that the worms' construction material, iron oxide, has the quality of being superparamagnetic, which causes them to light up an MRI scan in areas of suspicion. Even if only one of the worms finds a certain target, it is more easily detected than single superparamagnetic particles, like MIT's, because of its size.

While the results of the group's work are impressive, they are still researching different ways to attach anti-cancer drugs to the nanoworms, as well creating special chemicals that will allow administers to target specific types of tumors. Once a tethering method is found, it could allow the worms to be even more lethal to cancer cells than MIT's nanoparticle or Rensselaer Polytechnic's nanotube methods.


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interesting
By tmouse on 5/7/2008 9:35:12 AM , Rating: 5
They are using a fragment of the high-mobility group nucleosomal binding domain 2 peptide which allows the payloads to be transported into the nucleus. This is not tumor specific by the way. A clever approach; combining the two technologies. The 800 lbs gorilla is still finding the "zip code" (tumor specific antigen). Some have been identified most are still unknown (if such a thing exists for the majority; this field is over 30 years old with little progress). That is the vital missing component in many therapies (lots of neat delivery vehicles and novel payloads but few good targeting mechanisms). Then it remains to be seen how it performs after you attach the large payloads and targeting molecules. Still it is another clever discovery.




RE: interesting
By tmouse on 5/7/2008 1:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
While the work may be interesting the paper itself is terrible. I have never in all of my years of research seen a paper as useless as this one. The work simply cannot be duplicated because the material and methods section states that they basically followed the procedure described in a patent with modifications. They then use terms like "we used higher concentrations of salts ect." WITHOUT ANY ACTUAL NUMBERS !? I do not see how this was published but I do see why it was not in a more main stream journal.


RE: interesting
By paydirt on 5/8/2008 9:14:12 AM , Rating: 2
Um, sounds like they want to keep the information proprietary (maybe to keep a certain country from stealing the tech for nothing). I'm sure yourself or others can contact them for specifics if you are into this field.


RE: interesting
By tmouse on 5/8/2008 11:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
Yes I can ask, BUT the reason for a scientific publication is to allow others to first replicate the work and then develop upon it. The patent they sighted was not theirs and has 3 different formulae. Their changes probably would not be significantly different enough to provide a new patent. Even so if a researcher is interested in protecting their patent rights they should wait to publish until they have filed, not publish a paper using vague terms. It’s not a cook book; my point is that the reviewers should have never allowed it’s publication without this data. Concentrations of solutions are VERY basic requirements.


RE: interesting
By tygrus on 5/8/2008 10:52:58 AM , Rating: 2
Is referencing a patent for method is abbreviating to obfuscate? You can't fit a thesis into 2500words. Half a paper is taken up trying to explain the ever increasingly complex methods and referencing the ever increasing prior work. With more people more scientist/doctors/ and more R&D money .. the journal need to allow more papers and increase the length. By the time you fit confidence intervals, provide multiple graphs there is very little space for the rest of the text.


RE: interesting
By tmouse on 5/8/2008 12:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
The patent reference is really only a small problem. I have read papers that reference methods in other papers that are also only references to another paper and so on. Not specifically stating the example they used (there are 3 in the patent) and giving specific details on their changes are absolutely critical to reproducing their work and using it to build upon. I can probably figure out which general formula they used but I can never figure out the concentrations of the solutions without specifically asking. This should not be necessary, I am not in their field I just feel “nanoworms” may be useful in another application. Ultimately I will contact them but I am left with the feeling that if they do not want to openly share with the scientific community can one really trust them not to take an idea and use their head start to their own advantage. This is not a feeling scientists should have; it benefits no one. Leaving this out effectively negates any value the paper has. It just becomes an Unconfirmable narrative.


The Biggest Thing...
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/7/2008 9:23:12 AM , Rating: 3
With this or a variety of other methods, including the RF/Kazius method I wrote on is finding the protein markers on cancer cells for the drug delivers/particles to bind to.

The real challenge is going to be to catalog every protein marker/surface protein on various types of cancerous cells and compare them against those of normal cells, in hopes of finding ones unique to cancer. This is why projects like Folding At Home remain so valuable.

Cancer won't be cured overnight, it will be cured over years and thouands of catalogued results.




RE: The Biggest Thing...
By tmouse on 5/7/2008 9:37:15 AM , Rating: 3
Argh you beat me to it. ; )


RE: The Biggest Thing...
By paydirt on 5/8/2008 9:11:49 AM , Rating: 2
Folding At Home studies more about how proteins fold and misfold (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's). Rosetta At Home is more into figuring out how to efficiently catalog folded protein structures (cancer, malaria, HIV) [and they are into using computers to create designer proteins for drug delivery].


RE: The Biggest Thing...
By MRwizard on 5/8/2008 12:09:45 AM , Rating: 2
This is very exciting. With all these innovative ways of "killing" the cancer cells, I'm sure they'll be able to find a way of using almost the same methods on other diseases such as HIV and TB. Although, I;ve only read about curing cancer so far


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