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Brown chemists create cancer-detecting nanoparticles
Date:5/27/2008

is about 8.4 nanometers in overall diameter some six times smaller than the size of particles currently used in medicine.

"We wanted to make (the nanoparticle) very small, so the body's immune system won't recognize it," Sun explained. "That way, you let more particles interact with and attach to the tumor cell."

Nanoparticles are important in MRI detection because they enhance what scientists refer to as the "contrast" between the background, such as water molecules in the body, and a solid mass, such as a tumor.

The coating, while integral to the nanoparticles' attachment to the tumor cell, also is crucial to establishing the "signal-to-noise" ratio that a MRI uses. The thinner the coating, the stronger the emitted signal and vice versa. Sun's team outfitted their nanoparticles with a two-nanometer thick peptide coating 10 times thinner than the coating available in popular MRI contrast agents such as Feridex. Sun's nanoparticles are like having a 50,000-watt radio transmitter versus a 150-watt station; it's easier for the MRI to "hear" the stronger signal and to hone in on the signal's source.

Another important feature of the team's work is discovering that the RGD peptide coating binds almost seamlessly to the U87MG tumor cell. The team plans to test the particle's ability to bind with other tumor cells in further animal experiments.


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Contact: Richard Lewis
richard_lewis@brown.edu
401-863-3766
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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