Nanoparticles are among the tiniest in the world, but researchers have big plans for them to treat cancer.
Let’s think about what a nanoparticle is. Let’s compare it. A kiwi, which is a fruit like a pear, would actually be the size of the Earth compared to a nanoparticle. That’s how small, tiny a nanoparticle is.
Many possibilities of nanoparticles treating cancer
Because the properties are so small, nanoparticles can easily change their structures. By doing so, they made inroads in destroying cancerous tumors, and cause less damage to healthy tissues or organs. Scientists say nanoparticles may thwart cancer cells even before they become tumors.
Targeted therapy of nanoparticles treating cancer
Researchers focus on nanoparticles for targeted drug therapy. That refers to the method in which drugs are directed to certain organs, cells, or tissues. “Nanotechnology offers the means to target chemotherapies directly and selectively to cancerous cells and neoplasms,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
For instance, the NIH said, nanoparticles can help guide surgeries or enhance radiation. “All of this can add up to a decreased risk to the patient and an increased probability of survival,” the NCI says.
Nanoparticles are a focus of research into many diseases. “Research on nanotechnology cancer therapy extends beyond drug delivery into the creation of new therapeutics available only through the use of nanomaterial properties,” NIH said.
Much research is occurring throughout the world into nanotechnology to fight cancer.
A team of researchers, affiliated with the Republic of Korea’s UNiST, recently said it introduced a “novel targeted drug delivery system that improves the pharmacological and therapeutic properties of conventional cancer treatments.” Simply put, the study involves regulating the interaction between nanoparticles and biological systems, according to a study from UNiST.
Reduce side effects
Nanotherapy’s new technology may dramatically reduce side effects and enhance safety and efficiency in drug delivery.
Nanotherapy could show a marked improvement over existing drug therapy. “Even when the drug reaches a target such as a cancer cell, the treatment efficiency is very low and other side effects have been observed,” some of which are toxic, the study says.
According to Professor Ja-Hyoung Ryu, one of the authors of the study published in Nature Communications: “The new technology is much like the strategy where you take control of your enemies, using enemies.”
“Aside from treating cancer, our findings can also be applied to a variety of fields, such as the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases,” he adds.
Other research into nanoparticles around the world includes chemotherapy treatment research conducted at the University of Georgia. It aims to fight prostate cancer.
Researchers are using nanoparticles to deliver a certain molecule, known as IPA-3, to cancer cells. In laboratory studies involving mice, the molecule “appears to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells,” the research shows.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle, Wash. say they developed “an inexpensive way to make tumors temporarily vulnerable” using nanotechnology, says Hutch News.
The Fred Hutchinson team said it used nanoparticles “to carry immune-boosting drugs directly to solid tumors.” The immune system is the body’s defense against infection and cancer. It is made up of billions of different types of cells. T-cells are collected from patients and sent to laboratories where they are genetically engineered.
While there is progress in nanotechnology, some experts say they are drawbacks. The concerns are “toxicity, environmental harm and organ damaged caused by nanoparticles,” says International Journal of Development and Research. “There are some ethical issues concerned with the use of nanotechnology too.”
- Science Learning Hub. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/images/2035-nanoparticle-size-comparison
- Sabrina Richards. Fred Hutch. Hutch News. Nanoparticles open doors to cancer-fighting CAR T-cells. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2018/07/liposome-nanoparticles-tumors-vulnerable-immunotherapy.html
- UNiST News Center. Joo Hyeon Heo. Public Relations Team. Nature Communications. 2018. Nanoparticle Breakthrough in the Fight Against Cancer.
- UnderstandingNano.com. Nanotechnology and Nanoparticles in Cancer Treatment. 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.understandingnano.com/cancer-treatment-nanotechnology.html
- National Cancer Institute. Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis. Treatment and Therapy. 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/sites/nano/cancer-nanotechnology/treatment
- Kwatra Shubhika. International Journal of Drug Development and Research. 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.ijddr.in/drug-development/nanotechnology-and-medicine–the-upside-and-the-downside.php?aid=5003
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