Shape Adjusting Nanoparticles to Target Cancer Cells
Monday, February 22, 2016
A study published in the journal PNAS and Science reports that the scientists from the University of Toronto have designed a set of shape–shifting nanoparticles attached to the strands of the DNA that can target tumour cells as well as deliver chemotherapy drugs directly without affecting the body or killing healthy cells. This breakthrough came after Professor Warren Chan from the University of Toronto figured out the right technique to deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumours only over a decade.
At present, cancer drugs target the fast–growing cells that include both tumours as well as healthy cells. Healthy, fast growing cells include hair follicles, lining of the digestive system and skin. Hence, chemotherapy drugs often end up being a discomfort to patients. According to the researchers, no two tumours are identical and an early stage of breast cancer may react differently to a given treatment for pancreatic cancer or even breast cancer at an advanced stage. The probability of nanoparticles getting inside tumours depends on factors such as nanoparticles’ size, shape and surface chemistry.
Scientists, therefore, engineered the targeted molecular delivery system that uses modular nanoparticles whose shape, size and chemistry can be altered with the help of specific DNA sequences. These shape–shifting molecules have tiny portion of metal with the strands of the DNA attached to them. According to the scientists, the nanoparticles will float freely in the bloodstream until they encounter a DNA sequence with a cancer marker. Thereafter, these nanoparticles will change shape, size and chemistry and would target the cancerous cell.