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Short nanotubes target pancreatic cancer
Date:6/5/2014

said.

Several discoveries were key, he said. First, Rice graduate student, alumnus and co-author Alvin Orbaek purified the carbon nanotubes of iron catalysts necessary to their growth by flushing them with chlorine. "Leftover iron particles damage the tubes through oxidation," Barron said. "That makes subsequent use difficult."

The next step was to cut the nanotubes down to size. Very long nanotubes are floppy and hard to deal with, Barron said. Enrico Andreoli, a postdoctoral research associate in Barron's group and lead author of the paper, used a thermal process to chop them to an average length of 50 nanometers. (A human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide.)

"Instead of ending up with a fluffy nanotube powder, we get something that looks like a hockey puck," Barron said. "It's not dense it looks like a spongy puck but you can cut it with a razor blade. You can weigh it and do accurate chemistry with it."

Barron's lab added polyethyleneimine (PEI) to the nanotube surfaces. In lab tests, the modified tubes were easily dispersed in liquid and able to pass through barriers into live cancer cells to infiltrate the nuclei. A small-molecule variant of PEI proved to be less toxic to cells than larger versions, Barron said.

"This research shows that the particles are small enough to get inside cells where you like them to be and that they may have an increased killing advantage but that's still unknown," Fleming said.

Fleming, whose work focuses on improving drug delivery for pancreatic cancer, cautioned that more research is required. "The next step will be to test this approach in mice that have allografts taken from human tumors," he said. "The architecture of these tumors will more closely resemble that of human pancreatic cancer."


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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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