New Treatment Targets Cancer Cells - Not Healthy Ones
Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samuel School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new treatment method for cancer; a method that delivers a cancer killer to the nucleus of a cancer cell without harming healthy cells, avoiding the risks associated with gene therapy and chemotherapy.
The team, headed by Yi Tang, UCLA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, created 100-nanometer capsules, about half the size of the smallest known bacterium, made of a biodegradable polymer. The nano-capsules accomplish the task of carrying their contents to their targets without altering the composition of the contents. When they arrive at their destination, the capsules dissolve, releasing their contents in their intended form.
The shells are harmless, both to the cancer cells and the healthy cells, but their contents in these experiments are poisonous to cancer cells, breast cancer cell lines in mice. The 'poison' used was a protein complex developed from an anemia virus in birds called apoptin. Apoptin signals the nuclei of cancer cells to self-destruct.
"This approach is a potentially new way to treat cancer," said Tang. "It is difficult to deliver the protein if we don't use this vehicle. This is a unique way to treat cancer cells and leave healthy cells untouched."
Tang's group is continuing its work with the polymer capsules, attempting to lengthen the life of these vehicles, as well as to experiement with the delivery of other cancer-killing proteins.
This study is presented in the February 1, 2013 online journal, Nano Today.
via Science Daily