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Slipping through cell walls, nanotubes deliver high-potency punch to cancer tumors in mice
Date:8/14/2008

p>Critical to achieving those results were the size and surface structure of the nanotubes, which governed how they interacted with the walls of the blood vessels through which they circulated after being injected. Though a leaky vessel-nautical or anatomical-is rarely a good thing, in this instance the relatively leaky walls of blood vessels in the tumor tissue provided the opening that the nanotubes needed to slip into the tumor cells.

"The results are actually highly dependent on the surface chemistry," Dai said. "In other words, you don't get this result just by attaching drugs to any nanotubes."

The researchers used nanotubes that they had coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a common ingredient in cosmetics. The PEG they used was a form that has three little branches sprouting from a central trunk. Stuffing the trunks into the linked hexagonal rings that make up the nanotubes created a visual effect that Dai described as looking like rolled-up chicken wire with feathers sticking out all over. The homespun sounding appearance notwithstanding, the nanotubes proved to be highly effective delivery vehicles when the researchers attached the paclitaxel to the tips of the branches.

Dai's team has found in earlier work (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, No. 5, 1410-1415, Feb. 5, 2008) that coating nanotubes with PEG was an effective way to keep the nanotubes circulating in the bloodstream for up to 10 hours, long enough to find their way to the target location and much longer than free medication would circulate. Although attaching the paclitaxel to the PEG turned out to reduce the circulation time, it proved to still be long enough to deliver a highly effective dose inside the tumor cells.

All blood vessel walls are slightly porous, but in healthy vessels the pores are relatively small. By tinkering with the length of the nanotubes, the researchers were able to tailor the nanotubes so that they were too
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Contact: Louis Bergeron
louisb3@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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