Nanoparticles Target Cancer Cells

by Malc on August 20, 2008

nanoparticles1 Researchers at Georgia Tech, Atlanta have managed to target cancer cells by attaching magnetic nanoparticles into them.

Having attached the magnetic nanoparticles, a magnet applied at the skin surface attracts the cancer cells to the skin surface. In this position it is much easier to deal with them in a safe way.

The trick used with the magnetised nanoparticles follows a lock-and-key type of approach.

The ‘lock’ is a cell receptor, a sort of docking structure on the outside of every cell into which only certain ‘key’ proteins will fit. Each molecule of the appropriate ‘key’ protein has a magnetised nanoparticle fused to it, so it carries the magnetic charge directly to the cancer cell.

Once the protein has docked firmly with the cancer cell’s receptor, the cancer is vulnerable to the magnetic force the medics then use.

Other Uses Of The Technique

This same technique could potentially be used with any pathogens – such as bacteria or viruses. The only requirement would be to identify a unique receptor on the cell wall of the pathogen, and fuse the nanoparticle with a protein which targets that receptor.

In years to come such medicine will be commonplace, greatly reducing the need for damaging drugs and greatly reducing side-effects and treatment risks for the patient.

More information on Georgia Tech’s site

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