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Novel nanoparticles prevent radiation damage
Date:4/26/2010

April 26, 2010 ─ (BRONX, NY) ─ Tiny, melanin-covered nanoparticles may protect bone marrow from the harmful effects of radiation therapy, according to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University who successfully tested the strategy in mouse models. Infusing these particles into human patients may hold promise in the future. The research is described in the current issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. But because radiation also damages normal cells, doctors must limit the dose. Melanin, the naturally occurring pigment that gives skin and hair its color, helps shield the skin from the damaging effects of sunlight and has been shown to protect against radiation.

"A technique for shielding normal cells from radiation damage would allow doctors to administer higher doses of radiation to tumors, making the treatment more effective," said Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., associate professor of nuclear medicine and of microbiology & immunology and the Sylvia and Robert S. Olnick Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research at Einstein, as well as senior author of the study.

In previously published research, Dr. Dadachova and colleagues showed that melanin protects against radiation by helping prevent the formation of free radicals, which cause DNA damage, and by scavenging the free radicals that do form.

"We wanted to devise a way to provide protective melanin to the bone marrow," said Dr. Dadachova. "That's where blood is formed, and the bone-marrow stem cells that produce blood cells are extremely susceptible to the damaging effects of radiation."

Dr. Dadachova and her colleagues focused on packaging melanin in particles so small that they would not get trapped by the lungs, liver or spleen. They created "melanin nanoparticles" by coating tiny (20 nanometers in diameter) silica
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Contact: Deirdre Branley
sciencenews@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-2923
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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