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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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RE: Nanotech
By cochy on 11/20/2007 1:33:05 PM , Rating: 0
The numbers don't lie. Chemo and other drug treatments i a billions of dollars industry. These treatments have been around since the 40s! How long did it take to eradicate Polio? Measles? Small Pox? And they did that all in ages without our technology, our knowledge of the human genome. Our computing and resources are orders of magnitude greater than last century. What else has changed since then? Big business. Back then when millions were dying of Polio mankind saw the need to destroy it and they did in a relatively small period of time. Today? Why cure HIV after 25 million people have died from it? Do you know how many drugs an AIDS patient needs to take daily? LOTS.

I'm not jaded, you're just ignorant. Even the researchers are probably guilty to some degree. Do you know how much funding these guys get? LOTS. If they cured this disease they'd be out of a job, so to speak. The world is a selfish place friend. I'm not bitter just a realist.


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!


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