Nanoparticles could someday lead to end of chemotherapy

June 16, 2009
UCF researcher's nanoparticles could someday lead to end of chemotherapy
Dr. Manuel Perez and his team have been investigating the use of nanoparticles for medicine for years. Credit: Jacque Brund

Nanoparticles specially engineered by University of Central Florida Assistant Professor J. Manuel Perez and his colleagues could someday target and destroy tumors, sparing patients from toxic, whole-body chemotherapies.

Perez and his team used a drug called Taxol for their cell culture studies, recently published in the journal Small, because it is one of the most widely used chemotherapeutic drugs. Taxol normally causes many negative side effects because it travels throughout the body and damages healthy tissue as well as cancer cells.

The Taxol-carrying engineered in Perez's laboratory are modified so they carry the drug only to the cancer cells, allowing targeted without harming healthy cells. This is achieved by attaching a vitamin (folic acid) derivative that cancer cells like to consume in high amounts.

Because the nanoparticles also carry a fluorescent dye and an magnetic core, their locations within the cells and the body can be seen by optical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). That allows a physician to see how the tumor is responding to the treatment.

The nanoparticles also can be engineered without the drug and used as imaging (contrast) agents for cancer. If there is no cancer, the biodegradable nanoparticles will not bind to the tissue and will be eliminated by the liver. The iron oxide core will be utilized as regular iron in the body.

"What's unique about our work is that the nanoparticle has a dual role, as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent in a biodegradable and biocompatible vehicle," Perez said.

Perez has spent the past five years looking at ways nanotechnology can be used to help diagnose, image and treat cancer and infectious diseases. It's part of the quickly evolving world of nanomedicine.

The process works like this. in the tumor connect with the engineered nanoparticles via cell receptors that can be regarded as "doors" or "docking stations." The nanoparticles enter the cell and release their cargo of iron oxide, fluorescent dye and drugs, allowing dual imaging and treatment.

"Although the results from the cell cultures are preliminary, they are very encouraging," Perez said.

A new chemistry called "click chemistry" was utilized to attach the targeting molecule (folic acid) to the nanoparticles. This chemistry allows for the easy and specific attachment of molecules to nanoparticles without unwanted side products. It also allows for the easy attachment of other molecules to nanoparticles to specifically seek out particular tumors and other malignancies.

Perez's study builds on his prior research published in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. His work has been partially funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and a Nanoscience Technology Center start-up fund.

"Our work is an important beginning, because it demonstrates an avenue for using nanotechnology not only to diagnose but also to treat cancer, potentially at an early stage," Perez said.

Source: University of Central Florida (news : web)

Explore further: Nanoparticles Designed for Dual-Mode Imaging

Related Stories

Nanoparticles Designed for Dual-Mode Imaging

December 18, 2006

Nanoscale, inorganic fluorescent imaging agents such as quantum dots have become an important tool for researchers studying key biomolecules involved in cancer. At the same time, magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are proving ...

Protein Cage Helps Nanoparticles Target Tumors

January 17, 2007

Researchers at Montana State University have used an engineered form of ferritin, a cage-like iron storage protein, to both synthesize and deliver iron oxide nanoparticles to tumors. The investigators, led by Trevor Douglas, ...

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Image Tumor Cells

July 23, 2007

By taking advantage of the full range of ways in which molecules can interact with and bind to one another, a team of investigators at the Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence has created nanoparticles that ...

Recommended for you

Graphene is strong, but is it tough?

February 4, 2016

Graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms, has been touted as the strongest material known to exist, 200 times stronger than steel, lighter than paper, and with extraordinary mechanical and electrical ...

A new way to make higher quality bilayer graphene

February 8, 2016

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from institutions in the U.S., Korea and China has developed a new way to make bilayer graphene that is higher in quality than that produced through any other known process. ...

Nanoparticle ink could combat counterfeiting

February 5, 2016

(Phys.org)—Researchers have demonstrated that transparent ink containing gold, silver, and magnetic nanoparticles can be easily screen-printed onto various types of paper, with the nanoparticles being so small that they ...

Tiniest spin devices becoming more stable

February 3, 2016

(Phys.org)—In 2011, the research group of Roland Wiesendanger, Physics Professor at the University of Hamburg in Germany, fabricated a spin-based logic device using the spins of single atoms, a feat that represents the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.