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UNC study: shape, not just size, impacts effectiveness of emerging nanomedicine therapies
Date:8/4/2008

CHAPEL HILL In the budding field of nanotechnology, scientists already know that size does matter.

But now, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that shape matters even more a finding that could lead to new and more effective methods for treating cancer and other diseases, from diabetes and multiple sclerosis to arthritis and obesity.

A team of researchers led by Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences and William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University, and Stephanie Gratton, a graduate student in DeSimone's lab, have demonstrated that nanoparticles designed with a specific shape, size and surface chemistry are taken up into cells and behave differently within cells depending on these attributes.

Their findings appear in this week's online early edition of the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using nanoparticles to combat cancer is an area of interest for many researchers. For decades, treating the disease has mostly involved injecting patients with toxic drugs a practice in which only a fraction of the drugs reach the intended target, killing healthy cells in the process and causing harmful side effects.

Previous studies have shown that drug-carrying nanoparticles can hone-in on and attack tumors, in part because of their extremely small size less than 100 nanometers (one nanometer = one billionth of a meter) which helps allow them to pass through cell membranes. However, up until now, existing techniques have meant that targeting agents could only be delivered using spherical or granular shaped particles.

Using PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates) technology a technique invented in DeSimone's lab that allows scientists to design and produce "custom-made" nanoparticles the UNC resear
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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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