Remote Control Cancer Killers
November 20, 2007 9:12 AM
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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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11/20/2007 1:10:54 PM
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.
11/20/2007 11:51:43 PM
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.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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