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Nano-dwarves turn tumor assassins
Date:10/25/2013

This news release is available in German.

Hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of eye lashes and eye brows, susceptibility to infection the list of possible side effects from chemotherapy is lengthy. Many cancer patients suffer from the intense effects that accompany the treatment. High dosages of cytostatic agents are injected subcutaneously or administered intravenously to halt the growth of tumors and also to destroy resistant cells. The more frequently that cells divide, the more effective the active agent is. This applies especially to malignant tumors. However, healthy mucosal tissue and hair cells divide very rapidly as well. They are therefore attacked as well. Scientists have searched long and hard for a therapy that selectively kills off the tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue. Using a new methodology, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) in Potsdam, Germany, hope to break the vicious circle by utilizing nanoparticles as vehicles for the anti-cancer agents. Since the particles resemble cells on account of their structure, they are suited to steering pharmaceutical substances to the tumor selectively, docking there, and efficiently eliminating the malignant cells.

The researchers have decided to use hydrophobic, water-insoluble lipid vesicles as the tiny, 200-250 nanometer pharmaceutical carriers. They are biologically degradable and disintegrate in the body after deployment. Polymers are used to stabilize the nano-envelope, which is furnished with molecules highly specific to and recognized by tumor cells. The envelope of the nanoparticle experts call it the vesicles is constructed similarly that of a cell. The scientists load these carriers with doxorubicin, one of the anti-cancer agents
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Contact: Dr. Joachim Storsberg
Joachim.Storsberg@iap.fraunhofer.de
49-331-568-1321
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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