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Sticky nanoparticles find tumor cells where they can be used to release drugs straight to the culprit

Building on past research with sticky nanoparticles, scientists at MIT have developed a method of delivering drugs straight to tumor cells. Previously the particles, which flow discretely through the bloodstream adhering only to tumorous cells, helped visualize tumors via magnetic resonance imaging. Now, using electromagnetic wave pulses, the same particles could be used to bomb the tumor cells with drugs.

The researches found that they could use the superparamagnetic properties of certain nanoparticles to activate, or in this case destroy, bonds holding drug molecules to the particles. Superparamagenetic materials have the property of giving off heat when exposed to a magnetic field.

The researchers used low-frequency wave pulses with frequencies between 350 and 400 kilohertz. These frequencies are much lower than much-feared microwaves, and pass harmlessly through the body, affecting only the nanoparticle delivery vehicles.

The microscopic drug tethers are made from strands of DNA. What makes the DNA molecule a good choice is that it can be created to melt with different amounts of heat based on strand lengths and coding. This could allow each particle to have several kinds of drug molecules attached to it, thus safely customizing treatment by simply modulated the pulse's frequency.

Though tests in the lab involving mice and implanted faux-tumors saturated with the drug bomb nanoparticles have been successful, the team of researchers is still doing work to guarantee that enough of the drug-ferrying particles will clump together inside of a tumor naturally to be effective.

"Our overall goal is to create multi-functional nanoparticles that home to a tumor, accumulate, and provide customizable remotely activated drug delivery right at the site of the disease," said Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D, an associate professor at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology and MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.


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Nanotech
By mendocinosummit on 11/20/2007 10:28:33 AM , Rating: 2
Damn nanotech has really been making some big leaps the last couple of months. I remember about six years ago that a cancer cure would be decades off, but now I am thinking we are getting closer everyday.




RE: Nanotech
By OrSin on 11/20/2007 11:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
No cure in site. But at least better treatment. Thats the first step.


RE: Nanotech
By cochy on 11/20/2007 12:04:44 PM , Rating: 3
Sure, cancer research is only receiving billions of dollars annually in funding. The sad truth is no one is interested in a cure since treating the disease is much more profitable. Cancer is big business.


RE: Nanotech
By FITCamaro on 11/20/2007 1:10:54 PM , Rating: 5
As sad as it is, you are correct. Even if a cure were developed, it would be made so expensive, that cancer would effectively not be cured. It wouldn't surprise me if a cure for the common cold were out there somewhere. But then billions of dollars in revenue would be lost from sales of cold medicine.

I have some hope that drug companies are better than that. But not much.


RE: Nanotech
By Gatt on 11/20/2007 11:51:43 PM , Rating: 3
Completely untrue.

1. Many if not most hospitals are not making huge profits, and Cancer Patients are not a primary source of profits. Cancer patients are usually losses. It works like this, Medicare/Insurance says they'll pay for X days of treatment, Cancer patients are highly subject to secondary infections and often get them, Insurance won't pay for the extended stay. They lose money. The money makers are the one's who need therapy, therapy is pure gold.

2. They'll make a heck of alot more money by curing your butt, letting you go back out and smoke, and doing it all over again in 6 months. Repeat outpatient therapy is profit.

3. It's a major myth that "Doctors" or "Pharmaceuticals" don't want to cure you. They get a monopoly on the treatment/cure for something like 7 years. Cure Cancer, and the entire world will rush to your door. I guarantee you, the company that cures Cancer will be worth Trillions and can still sell it's treatment at affordable costs. The company that cures HIV and Hep C will be worth hundreds of billions. Trust me, it's well in their interests to do it.


RE: Nanotech
By Misty Dingos on 11/20/2007 1:11:58 PM , Rating: 5
What is really sad is that you believe that.

What a load of crap. Are you so jaded or so paranoid that anyone profiting from someone suffering makes sense to you? Are you so jealous of someone making more money that you can or do that you have to fantasize that they are so consumed by wealth that they would rather people suffer and die rather than be healthy and well? Can you be so consumed by your own infantilism that it makes sense to you that the millions of people working on curing cancer in all its forms are somehow engaged in a conspiracy to keep cures from the public?

I work in pharma industry and while I can not speak for every company, I know that if the company I work for came up with a treatment or ( profits forbid) a cure for some form of cancer we would beat down the doors of the FDA to get it approved. And why is that? Because curing a disease is much more profitable than treating one. Cancer isn't going to go away if we start finding cures for the various forms. But having your grandmother in an ad for the drug that cured her cancer would skyrocket the company stock to platinum in record time.

Oh but that would give you something to cry about again. The excessive profits drug companies make. Tell you what, if you think that is true please start your own drug company and start making drugs. Please. If you can find a way to deal with the FDA, Canadians, Germans, Japanese, and for that matter the ROW (Rest Of the World) authorities. While still making a profit. Please do so impress us all. Because none of them are on the same page. Some of them let you make a profit and some don’t or not as much. So if you want to keep operating you charge some countries more than others. And you best keep a steady string of discoveries coming out of your R&D department because when the patents start running out on your money makers you aren’t going to have enough to keep funding your R&D department. When that happens someone is going to come in and buy your sorry I can’t make a profit ass out.

*Gets off pharma company supplied soap box*


RE: Nanotech
By cochy on 11/20/07, Rating: 0
RE: Nanotech
By rushfan2006 on 11/20/2007 3:19:24 PM , Rating: 2
While I'd be flat out lying to everyone in this thread if I said I never thought that some companies really have the best interests in NOT curing a disease because of the profits in it. I'm also not so darn cynical to believe the ENTIRE world and EVERY SINGLE company and researcher on the planet would put the "holy dollar" above a cure.

Healthy cynicism I guess you can call my point of view - not naive to think the world is full of saints, but not quite cynical to think its only full of sinners either.

The one thing I will tell you I DO believe though -- the people who really do value a cure for the goodness of mankind are NOT the ones reaching the big time funds....its the companies that cater more for dragging out a cure to milk the profits of the treatment that get the funds.

Aside from that....Cancer is a much more complex a disease than Small Pox, Measles or Polio....orders of magnitude more complex. And cancer comes in many "varieties" unfortunately.

So I'll sit on the "line" on this one and call you paranoid folks "yeah they have a point", but you folks that think the world is all bunnies and roses "wow they are naive".

later.


RE: Nanotech
By Whedonic on 11/20/2007 8:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
Like you said, cancer is a very different kind of disease than polio and the others. Since it's caused by the malfunction of the body's own cells, as opposed to a pathogen, it makes the creation of preventative treatments an extremely difficult prospect. Personally, I'm thrilled to be making advances in treating tumor period. If someday someone thinks of a radical new way to prevent them altogether, even better.


RE: Nanotech
By Misty Dingos on 11/20/2007 3:25:35 PM , Rating: 3
Bitter, jaded, and sad you are. You may choose to hide behind the facade of realism but the ugly reality is that you believe that there are people that won't cure a disease for a buck or euro.

What you are ignorant of is how difficult it is to cure a disease like AIDS or any one of the hundreds of forms of cancer there are.

Trying to equate the fight against polio to that of HIV highlights your ignorance. Polio was a walk in the pharmaceutical park compared to AIDS. And because I am nice I will help you out.

Here is that polio process in a nutshell. "Hey if we put some dead virus into people their own immune system might respond and when they do get infected they might have a chance since the immune system has seen it before!" Oh the guy that got this idea didn’t even get the Nobel Prize. And the good news is what kids? He didn’t cure polio he prevented it. When did they identify the polio virus? 1908. Over 40 years to get an effective immunization. Not a cure by the way. What no cure? That can’t be true? People don’t die from polio in your world because in the kindler gentler old days (circa 1952) pharmaceutical firms believed in curing people. Know what happens if you get polio today? The same thing that happened in 1908 or for that matter 1108, you get sick and hope you don’t end up paralyzed or dead. How many cases of polio identified last year? Over 600, and this is a disease they have been trying to eradicate for decades.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polio

Let's try this with HIV. Oh wait? It uses the immune system to infect victims. I guess that polio method won't work here. Back to the drawing board then. Just don’t work too fast though because there are so few diseases that need treatments and cures. (that last sentence is intended to be sarcastic)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiv

It takes human imagination and perseverance to cure diseases like AIDS and cancer. Computers will help and all the knowledge of the human genome won't hurt but until the researchers understand the total disease process it is going to be a trial and error game.

So my advice to you is get your ignorant ass in a class and learn something about diseases and their cure and treatment before you paint an entire industry with a brush best used on people like Mengele.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Mengele


RE: Nanotech
By masher2 (blog) on 11/20/2007 3:28:33 PM , Rating: 3
> "The numbers don't lie. "

But your interpretation of them does.

> "How long did it take to eradicate Polio? Measles? Small Pox?"

Do you truly not understand the difference between cancer and infectious diseases? The advances we made on childhood illnesses were all due to one simple breakthrough, and one in which the human immune system does nearly all the work for us.

Cancer is a wholly different problem, and one in which the disease appears, for most people at least, to be "programmed into" them. Comparing a cure for cancer with killing a few cowpox cells and injecting them into someone is like comparing a wooden oxcart wheel the the Space Shuttle.

> "Our computing and resources are orders of magnitude greater than last century."

And they are still several orders of magnitude less than what we need to accurately and quickly model the quantum processes which control protein properties. No, I'm actually understating the problem drastically.

Let me try to explain the issue to you. I can "solve" the wave equation for the hydrogen atom with a pen and paper. That's how simple it is. Move to the next harder atom-- the helium atom-- and you have a problem so hard a supercomputer struggles to model it. The difficulty of the Schrodinger equation rises that fast with each particle you add.

Now can you possibly understand how difficult it is to model even a single protein, containing hundreds or thousands of different atoms? Its not just thousand times more difficult, its 10 ^ 1000 times harder. Worse. Its not even a tractable problem, unless we simplify the model so much we're not even sure if its accurate, and even then it takes a worldwide network of thousands of machines just to do a single fold.

In fact, we won't ever be able to solve problems like this until or unless we're able to build large quantum computers. Check back in 40 years, and maybe we'll be able to discover a cure for cancer simply by "computational resources". Because if we find one before then, it'll be due to sheer, blind luck.


RE: Nanotech
By cochy on 11/20/2007 4:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
This is the reality I see. Every year we have the same hospitals and organizations around here and probably in many other locations around the world put on these large fund raising campaigns for breast cancer. They do a large walk or some other event. The end result of 90% of the money raised is fancy new treatment facilities, or they get some famous research to move to Montreal and research there, giving him a raise to move from Sweden to Canada.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/07110...

That's an article about a recent study. Give it a read, it didn't really raise my hopes of a cure any time soon.

Point is throughout history when civilization wanted to accomplish some feat, they ended up finding the ingenuity to get it done.

Sadly I'm not a quantum chemist like yourself, however cancer is merely a damage or mis-programming of a cell. I'm sure the ingenuity exists today to fix that damage if only the focus and dollars were properly being allocated.


RE: Nanotech
By masher2 (blog) on 11/20/2007 6:31:51 PM , Rating: 1
> "The end result of 90% of the money raised is fancy new treatment facilities, or they get some famous research to move to Montreal and research there, giving him a raise to move from Sweden to Canada."

I know a few researchers, and I can tell you none of them are getting rich off their work. As for the "90% of money raised", if you want to believe in random figures I can't stop you, but obviously a percentage of any funding has to go overhead, facilities, equipment, and salaries. What else would you spend it on?

> "Give it a read, it didn't really raise my hopes of a cure any time soon."

Of course not. In any field where the majority of research is based on statistical studies, that's a sure indicator that our knowledge of it is based on trial and error, rather than any real understanding. As I said, once we have largescale quantum computers, you can expect a major paradigm shift in how we approach medical research.

> " however cancer is merely a damage or mis-programming of a cell"

Not quite. With the right equipment, the right team, and a large amount of effort, we can fix one cell. The problem is cancer is-- by the time its detected-- trillions and trillions of cells. If metastasized, those cells are going be spread throughout the victim's entire body, each of them duplicating like mad.

Now, how do you suggest we "fix" them all? An army of nanobots would work nicely...if we could build them.

> "Point is throughout history when civilization wanted to accomplish some feat, they ended up finding the ingenuity to get it done"

Right. People have been wanting to fly since the ancient Greeks. It only took us about 3000 years to accomplish
that. We've only been working on oncology seriously for a few decades...I think the progress so far has been stellar, to be honest.


RE: Nanotech
By Whedonic on 11/20/2007 8:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And they are still several orders of magnitude less than what we need to accurately and quickly model the quantum processes which control protein properties. No, I'm actually understating the problem drastically.

That's what the Folding@Home program is for :)
...though even that makes very very slow progress


RE: Nanotech
By biotech on 11/20/2007 9:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
Buddy! Dude! Your ignorance is astounding. I am not sure where you get your facts but let me try and set a few things straight. There is no cure for Polio, Small Pox or Measles. We have vaccinations against them. A vaccination is not a cure, it is a prevention measure which creates memory B and T plasma cells which will destroy the virus the next time you are exposed to it. All vaccines are attenuated or de-activated viruses or viral capsid proteins. If you get vaccinated after an exposure to a virus the vaccine is not going to do you any good.

No virus has a cure, at least not yet. Developing a vaccine for the HIV is no easy task, especially since it is a retrovirus and has a high mutation rate. The mutations lead to different surface viral antigens and the virus evades the host immune system. Even if I made a vaccine today, tomorrow there will a new mutation rendering the vaccine ineffective.

Yes why don't you tell us how many drugs an AIDS patient needs to take daily? AIDS is not the same things as having HIV. Once someone has AIDS their immune system is rendered useless and no drug can solve that problem. HIV positive people are give a triple cocktail of nucleoside analogues, reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors. All of which inhibit viral replication at a different replication pathway, even then their are HIV strains that have mutated to these treatments and in some people the treatment is not effective.

Obviously you are not very well versed in molecular biology or biochemistry yet here you are making these accusations. If it's so easy why don't you go find a cure!


RE: Nanotech
By Rav3n on 11/20/2007 5:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
Someone's been watching too much Mission Impossible 2 lately...


RE: Nanotech
By PrezWeezy on 11/20/2007 9:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I heard recently they had a gene that could be spliced to your own DNA and re-injected into your body. Then the gene would reproduce and erradicate the cancer. One of my customers is good friends with some people at John Hopkins. It's really interesting what they are up to over there.


Deceptive Picture
By NEOCortex on 11/20/2007 10:25:48 AM , Rating: 2
That picture looks much cooler than what is actually going on.
All that Star Trek I've watched over the years has really made me hope for real life nanites, but unfortunately I don't think that is going to happen.

Interesting research though. Superparamagnetism sucks for HDD, but it certainly has some other cool applications.




RE: Deceptive Picture
By KingViper on 11/20/2007 11:55:49 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, some viruses resemble that shape.


RE: Deceptive Picture
By masher2 (blog) on 11/20/2007 12:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
If that's supposed to be a virus among red blood cell, the scale is extraordinarily far off. Most virus particles are 50-100X smaller than a human cell.


Whatever happened to...
By rbuszka on 11/20/2007 6:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever happened to the metabolic drug which killed cancerous cells that don't make their energy in the mitochondria, but instead make it all over the cell? It was reported that this drug reliably killed most cancers, but we don't even hear anything about it today.




RE: Whatever happened to...
By biotech on 11/20/2007 10:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know of any cancer cell that makes it's energy outside of the mitochondria. All Eukarotic cells make energy within the mitochondria. I am not sure what drug this is but if you would elaborate on it I could find out more.


Why hasn't Cuba found a cure?
By enlil242 on 11/20/2007 6:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
I read somewhere they had the BEST healthcare system in the world. I think it was in some movie. Also, I heard that big corporations do not run their system, and many can poeple flock there to get care. So if I read some of these posts right, Cuba should easily find a cure...

(the above was satire)




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