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Getting cancer cells to swallow poison
Date:1/9/2012

BOSTON, MA -- Honing chemotherapy delivery to cancer cells is a challenge for many researchers. Getting the cancer cells to take the chemotherapy "bait" is a greater challenge. But perhaps such a challenge has not been met with greater success than by the nanotechnology research team of Omid Farokhzad, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) Department of Anesthesiology Perioperative and Pain Medicine and Research.

In their latest study with researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital, the BWH team created a drug delivery system that is able to effectively deliver a tremendous amount of chemotherapeutic drugs to prostate cancer cells.

The study is electronically published in the January 3, 2012 issue of ACS Nano.

The process involved is akin to building and equipping a car with the finest features, adding a passenger (in this case the cancer drug), and sending it off to its destination (in this case the cancer cell).

To design the "vehicle," researchers used a selection strategy developed by Farokhzad's team that allowed them to essentially select for ligands (molecules that bind to the cell surface) that could specifically target prostate cancer cells. The researchers then attached nanoparticles containing chemotherapy, in this case docetaxel, to these hand-picked ligands.

To understand Farokhzad's selection strategy, one must understand ligand behavior. While most ligands mainly have the ability to bind to cells, the strategy of Farokhzad and his colleagues allowed them to select specific ligands that were not only able to bind to prostate cancer cells, but also possessed two other important features: 1) they were smart enough to distinguish between cancer and non-cancer cells and 2) they were designed to be swallowed by cancer cells.

"Most ligands are engulfed by cells, but not efficiently," said Farokhzad. "We designed one that is intended to
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Contact: Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg
mmontemayor-quellenberg@partners.org
617-534-2208
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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