Nanotechnology and cancer

January 26, 2011

In the last few years, nanotechnology has gained in popularity. Particularly, in cancer research, where it holds great promise for the development of targeted, localized delivery of anticancer drugs, in which only cancer cells are affected. Nowadays, anticancer drugs are distributed through the whole body, damaging healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.

Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have carried out a study where they demonstrate that mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs), tiny particles with thousands of pores, can store and deliver chemotherapeutic drugs in vivo and effectively suppress tumors in mice.

The study also showed that MSNs circulate in the bloodstream for extended periods of time and accumulate almost exclusively in tumors after administration and that the nanoparticles are excreted from the body after they have delivered their chemotherapeutic drugs.According to the researchers, the tumor accumulation could be further improved by attaching a targeting moiety to MSNs.

There is still a long way to go before this technology can be used in humans, with safety tests and many more studies to follow in different animal models, but so far, the results are very positive.

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