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UCLA researchers design nanomachine that kills cancer cells
Date:4/1/2008

Researchers from the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a novel type of nanomachine that can capture and store anticancer drugs inside tiny pores and release them into cancer cells in response to light.

Known as a "nanoimpeller," the device is the first light-powered nanomachine that operates inside a living cell, a development that has strong implications for cancer treatment.

UCLA researchers reported the synthesis and operation of nanoparticles containing nanoimpellers that can deliver anticancer drugs March 31 in the online edition of the nanoscience journal Small.

The study was conducted jointly by Jeffrey Zink, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Fuyu Tamanoi, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and director of the signal transduction and therapeutics program at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Tamanoi and Zink are two of the co-directors for the Nano Machine Center for Targeted Delivery and On-Demand Release at the California NanoSystems Institute.

Nanomechanical systems designed to trap and release molecules from pores in response to a stimulus have been the subject of intensive investigation, in large part for their potential applications in precise drug delivery. Nanomaterials suitable for this type of operation must consist of both an appropriate container and a photo-activated moving component.

To achieve this, the UCLA researchers used mesoporous silica nanoparticles and coated the interiors of the pores with azobenzene, a chemical that can oscillate between two different conformations upon light exposure. Operation of the nanoimpeller was demonstrated using a variety of human cancer cells, including colon and pancreatic cancer cells. The nanoparticles were given to human cancer cells in vitro and taken up in the dark. When light was directed at the particles, the nanoimpeller mechanism
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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