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Taxol bristle ball: a wrench in the works for cancer
Date:9/22/2007

"Ideally, we'd like to deliver more of the drug directly to the cancer cells and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy," Zubarev said. "In addition, we'd like to improve the effectiveness of the drug, perhaps by increasing its ability to stay bound to microtubules within the cell."

Zubarev's new delivery system centers on a tiny ball of gold that's barely wider than a strand of DNA. Finding a chemical process to attach a uniform number of paclitaxel molecules to the ball -- without chemically altering the drugs -- was not easy. Only a specific region of the drug binds with microtubules. This region of the drugs fits neatly into the cell's support structure, like a chemical "key" fitting into a lock. Zubarev and graduate student Jacob Gibson knew they had to find a way to make sure the drug's key was located on the face of each bristle.

Zubarev and Gibson first designed a chemical "wrapper" to shroud the key, protecting it from the chemical reactions they needed to perform to create the ball. Using the wrapped version of the drug, they undertook a series of reactions to attach the drug to linker molecules that were, in turn, attached to the ball. In the final step of the reaction, they dissolved the wrapper, restoring the key.

"We are already working on follow-up studies to determine the potency of the paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles," Zubarev said. "Since each ball is loaded with a uniform number of drug molecules, we expect it will be relatively easy to compare the effectiveness of the nanoparticles with the effectiveness of generally administered paclitaxel."


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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