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  (Source: tadamon.ca)

Dr. Dan Peer  (Source: aftau.org)
Delivers drugs directly into cancer cells

Scientists in Israel have come up with a way to target cancer without damaging healthy cells. Two researchers at Tel Aviv University developed a nano-vehicle that carries tiny particles of chemotherapy drugs through the body.  The drugs are released when the nano-vehicle comes into direct contact with cancer cells.  

Dr. Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University's Department of Cell Research and Immunology and the Center for Nano Science and Nano Technology and Professor Rimona Margalit of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology invented the tumor-targeting device.  

"The vehicle is very similar to a cluster bomb," explains Peer. 

A sugar molecule recognized by many cancer cell receptors is used to create the outer coating of the cluster.  The microscopic nano-device is wrapped in this sugary coating -- which serves as a trojan -- tricking the cancer cells.

"When the nano-vehicle interacts with the receptor on the cancerous cell, the receptor undergoes a structural change and the chemotherapy payload is released directly into the cancer cell," said Peer.

The direct release leads to more focused treatment against the cells. As a result, this nano-vehicle can be used to treat various types of cancer and increases the benefits of chemotherapy while reducing side effects. Since the nano-vehicle is made from organic materials, it is safer than current therapies and according to Peer and the materials decompose once its function is complete.

Peer and Margalit are said to be working with a pharmaceutical company in the United States with expected trials to being within the next two years.  

The Tel Aviv team's breakthrough, published in the most recent edition of the Biomaterials journal can be found here.





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