23 September 2009

Nanoparticles for cancer treatment: the more, the better

When the result exceeds expectationsElena Novoselova, STRF.ru
A group of researchers from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), studying nanoparticles used for the treatment of cancer tumors, revealed the secret of why they turned out to be much more effective than planned.

Iron oxide nanoparticles coated with polysaccharides, when tested on animals, showed amazing results and fought tumors more effectively than similar, but smaller ones.

The biotech companies Micromod Partikeltechnologie and Aduro BioTech, who created these nanoparticles for antitumor therapy, turned to NIST to understand the causes of this phenomenon. These magnetite nanoparticles turned out to be larger than it is customary to use in treatment and, according to scientists' forecasts, should have attracted to each other when activated in a magnetic field, forming large conglomerates that prevent penetration into tumor cells.

In addition to the fact that polysaccharides make nanoparticles attractive to "hungry" intensively growing tumor cells, it turned out that they mutually repel due to the hydrophobic "ends" of sugars. And the larger sizes of iron oxide particles allow them to heat up better in a magnetic field and destroy tumor cells more efficiently.

Thus, the delicate balance between the attraction of iron oxide particles and the repulsion of polysaccharide shells allows to preserve the ability of nanoparticles to transport and at the same time increase their size for more effective therapy.

The results of these studies are published in the journal Nanotechnology.

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