Using Nanotechnology to Kill Cancer
Reported June 23, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) Fighting cancer could someday involve cooking cancer cells.
Biomedical scientists at University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center and nanotechnology experts from UT Dallas are testing a new way to kill cancer cells. The procedure attaches cancer-seeking antibodies to tiny carbon tubes that heat up when theyre exposed to near-infrared light.
The researchers used monoclonal antibodies biological molecules that bind to cancer cells to target specific sites on lymphoma cells to coat tiny structures called carbon nanotubes. These are very small cylinders of graphite carbon that heat up when exposed to near-infrared light. The light is invisible to the human eye, and is used in TV remote controls to switch channels and is detected by night-vision goggles.
In cultures of cancerous lymphoma cells, the study shows the antibody-coated nanotubes attached to the cells surfaces. When the targeted cells were exposed to near-infrared light, the nanotubes heated up, generating enough heat to basically cook the cells and kill them.
Demonstrating this specific killing was the objective of this study, senior author, Dr. Ellen Vitetta, UT Southwestern, was quoted as saying. We have worked with targeted therapies for many years, and even when this degree of specificity can be demonstrated in a laboratory dish, there are many hurdles to translating these new therapies into clinical studies. Were just beginning to test this in mice, and although there is no guarantee it will work, we are optimistic.
Biomedical applications of nanoparticles are getting more attention from scientists. However, there are still challenges to successfully developing nanomedical reagents, including the potential that a new nanomaterial may damage healthy cells and organisms. More research is needed to determine whether the reagents are inherently toxic.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2008