Some worry that these nanoparticles aren't safe over long periods of time, however.
Nanotubes of certain lengths have been shown to produce results similar to
those of a known carcinogen, asbestos.
Other studies revolve around the tiny spears and their effects on the liver or
University of California at San Diego researchers recently published work which
uses nanoparticles to deliver chemical toxins to specific cancer cells in mice.
This is not a very new development, DailyTech readers have read about
several such endeavors in the past. However, UCSD's delivery method and drug
approach are a little
First, the UCSD nanoparticles are not carbon nanotubes. Their nanoparticles are
composed of lipid-based polymers instead. Second, instead of using various
means of energy or activation on their nanoparticles, UCSD's are a more
traditional search and destroy variety. The particles are programmed to seek
out a specific protein marker called integrin ανβ3. Rather than relying on
detonating a payload onsite, the particles deliver a widely used chemotherapy
toxin called doxorubicin directly to the tumors, effectively killing tumor
cells while leaving healthy cells in the area largely unaffected.
David Cheresh, Ph.D, the Moores UCSD Cancer Center Director of Translational
Research, explains “doxorubicin is known to be an effective anti-cancer drug,
but has been difficult to give patients an adequate dose without negative side
effects. This new strategy represents the first time we’ve seen such an impact
on metastatic growth, and it was accomplished without the collateral damage of
weight loss or other outward signs of toxicity in the patient.”
While the treatment was found to have little effect on primary tumors, it
effectively prevented metastasizing in pancreatic and kidney cancers of mice.
Metastasis is typically more difficult to treat than primary tumors, and is
often the cause of death in cancer victims. Integrin ανβ3 is expressed by
tumorous blood vessels that give rise to angiogenesis, or the formation of new
blood vessels. Metastasis is more reliant on new vessel growth than established
tumors, so targeting these areas with chemotherapy may help to prevent it.