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University of the Basque Country team develop nano-hydrogels capable of detecting cancer cells
Date:2/17/2009

This release is available in Spanish.

The task of the New Materials and Supramolecular Spectroscopy research team at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) has been to provide an answer to this problem by using intelligent nano-hydrogels - small particles capable of detecting diseased cells and releasing the medication only where required. The hydrogels are polymers in the shape of a net. These hydrogels can swell up by absorption but cannot be dissolved in a liquid. This type of polymers has many and very diverse applications. For example, they can be used to make artificial muscle or for capturing heavy metals in waste water.

The New Materials and Supramolecular Spectroscopy research team at the Department of Physical Chemistry in the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the UPV/EHU is a pioneering one in the investigation of hydrogels and is led by Dr. Issa A. Katime, author of the only book published in Spanish on the topic. At present, they are using hydrogels to release pharmaceutical drugs in a controlled manner, for example, with cancer patients. Their goal was to design a particle capable of detecting where the cancer is. To this end, intelligent hydrogels capable of detecting changes in pH were developed while blood generally has a pH of 7.4, in a zone where a cancer is located it drops to 4.7-5.2. In order to achieve this capability, these hydrogels are functionalised with folic acid, which has the ability to detect and to "trick" cancer cells, in such a way that these permit penetration of their membranes: under these conditions the hydrogel acts like a "Trojan horse". Once in the cell interior, the change in pH favours the swelling of the nano-hydrogel and, thus, the release of the pharmaceutical drug.

But known hydrogels present a problem in their application with patie
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Contact: Lucia Alvarez
lucia@elhuyar.com
34-688-673-679
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert

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