Researchers focus on nanoparticles for delivery of cancer treatment

December 12, 2013

At NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Science and Engineering, assistant professor of chemistry Ali Trabolsi leads the Trabolsi Research Group, which focuses on supramolecular multifunctional systems: these are modified molecules developed by chemists for applications in a variety of fields, including medicine and engineering. In the past two years, the group has produced cutting-edge research that may help improve the effectiveness of drugs used for cancer treatment.

With postdoctoral associate Farah Benyettou and assistant professor of practice of biology Rana Al-Assah, Trabolsi recently published a paper in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B that describes the creation of a composite nanoparticle that may potentially be used to treat cancer.

They began the experiment with magnetic iron-oxide , which hold great potential in medicine because they are extremely small, non-toxic, and can be used as both imaging agents and for drug delivery. The researchers then attached a series of macrocycle "containers" to the iron-oxide nanoparticles. "By coupling a container to the surface, the new nanoparticles can be used for a dual application: for MRI and also to deliver an anti-cancer drug," Benyettou says. This is called a theranostic system, in that it would allow physicians to monitor and control the distribution of drugs in a patient.

The authors opted not to deliver a drug, but to test the delivery of a dye to prove the success of their idea. The dye, called Nile Red, is not fluorescent on its own, but when the dye is added to the macrocycle container, it becomes fluorescent. This fluorescence allows researchers to track the nanoparticle throughout cells.

Moreover, the dual action makes it possible for the nanoparticle to be used not only for MRI but also for treating cancers locally, as they are magnetic and physicians could potentially control the location and distribution of the particles. This would have positive application in chemotherapy cancer treatments.

"The nanoparticles can be guided with a magnet and thus can be localized in a particular part of the body. This may help reduce the side effects of cancer drugs," Benyettou explains. "That's the problem with chemotherapy: when you administer the drug it goes everywhere; it kills cancer cells, but it also kills healthy cells."

By controlling the distribution of chemicals in the body, this new development may also help prevent damage that is caused to . Benyettou and Trabolsi have written a proposal to add a popular to the nanoparticle to see how this modification affects in living tissue.

Explore further: New nanoparticle delivers, tracks cancer drugs

Related Stories

New nanoparticle delivers, tracks cancer drugs

October 29, 2013

( —UNSW chemical engineers have synthesised a new iron oxide nanoparticle that delivers cancer drugs to cells while simultaneously monitoring the drug release in real time.

Cylindrical nanoparticles more deadly to breast cancer

December 3, 2013

( —Cylindrical shaped nanoparticles are seven times more deadly than traditional spherical ones when delivering drugs to breast cancer cells, an international team of researchers has discovered.

To treat cancer, is the force strong with nanorobots?

November 22, 2013

( —Every day, more than 20,000 people around the world succumb to cancer, according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization. Thousands more continue to suffer through treatment and its side effects.

Unique nano carrier targets drug delivery to cancer cells

October 28, 2013

A unique nanostructure developed by a team of international researchers, including those at the University of Cincinnati, promises improved all-in-one detection, diagnoses and drug-delivery treatment of cancer cells.

Recommended for you

Testing TVs and tablets for 'green' screens

August 21, 2017

To improve viewing pleasure, companies have developed television—and tablet screens—that include quantum dots to enhance brightness and color. Some quantum dots are made with potentially harmful metals, which could leach ...

Going nano in the fight against cancer

August 17, 2017

Imagine being able to see the signs of cancer decades before we can now. URI Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Daniel Roxbury and researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have invented a technique that ...


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.