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 6:31:51 PM
> "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.
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