Navigation Links
University of the Basque Country team develop nano-hydrogels capable of detecting cancer cells

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 patients: their molecular size. The most effective manner to administer a pharmaceutical drug is intravenously it gets to all parts in a very short time , but very large molecules cannot be injected because they may cause obstruction or problems on the organism such as, for example, angina pectoris and even heart attack. The essential condition for their use in humans is that these particles have to be sufficiently small so as not to obstruct the veins and arteries and, besides, not be detected by the white corpuscles otherwise the latter will attack the former and cause them to enlarge, giving rise to the previously mentioned problem. Thus, if these particles are small enough to pass through the membrane of the kidney, in the case of not detecting any cancer cells, they can be excreted in the urine.

The problem of size

The use of nanoparticles for these ends holds a number of difficulties: interweaving them in a controlled manner in order to create the nano-hydrogels; the spaces created within the structure of the net having the necessary size to transport the pharmaceutical drug; and all the particles having a similar size.

What happens is, on synthesising polymers, particles of very different sizes are obtained. If they are to be injected into the human body, these particles cannot be much greater than 15-30 nanometres. To this end, the research team perfected a technique that not only enabled the obtaining of nanoparticles, but also that they all were of similar size.

The final design of the nanoparticles was a success. Currently these are undergoing "in vivo" trials with research teams led by Dr. Jos Mara Teijn, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Complutense University in Madrid and Dr. Antonio Quintana, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the UPV/EHU.

But these intelligent nano-hydrogels are not only useful for combating cancer. The application of nano-hydrogels with anti-tubercular pharmaceutical drugs is currently being investigated. Today, the most effective anti-tubercular drugs have to be injected several times daily, a problem in areas with poor access to health centres, as in developing countries.

This research team is designing a system with nano-hydrogels that contains a mixture of anti-tubercular pharmaceutical drugs and which release this medication in a controlled and constant manner over long periods of time. But, in this case, the hydrogel is charged with more than one substance, and it is consequently more difficult to control the speed and concentration with which the pharmaceutical drug is released. This will oblige the team to modify the structure of the hydrogel and adapt it to suit the need of the case in hand.


Contact: Lucia Alvarez
Elhuyar Fundazioa

Related medicine news :

1. University of Ottawa Heart Institute Scientists Unlock Mechanism That Turns on Weight-Loss Gene
2. HotHead Technologies Heat Sensor Shows Exciting Potential by Kennesaw State University Researchers
3. Walden University Offers a New M.S. in Leadership Degree and New Bachelors Degrees in Instructional Design and Technology and in Nursing
4. University of Rochester Launches iTraining for Emergency Responders
5. Accordent Delivers Medical Lecture Capture Platform for University of Texas Health Sciences Center
6. Quantum Executive Pete Martinez Invited to Participate in University Health Seminar
7. Ross University School of Medicine Expands Clinical Rotations at Miami Children's Hospital
8. Nanyang Technological University launches first-ever sports degree in Singapore
9. University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital to Announce Medical First
10. Washington University Becker Library Makes MetaCore Accessible Throughout the University
11. University HealthSystem Consortium Selects Cartus to Provide Relocation Services
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are ... in many ways they remain in the eye of the beholder, according to experts ... publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. For the full issue, click ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Carolina (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... of a new product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The ... centuries. , The two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Experts from the American Institutes for ... Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. , AIR ... care planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR researchers will ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX users can easily customize each ... Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over 1,300 hand-drawn pictures into hand ... select a ProHand generator and drag it above media or text in the Final ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin ... injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his ... of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced that it ... (procalcitonin) assay as a dedicated testing solution for people ... Roche is the first IVD company in the U.S ... assessment and management. PCT is a sepsis-specific ... blood can aid clinicians in assessing the risk of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Bracket , a leading clinical trial ... clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, at the ... – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.  ... Assessment product of its kind to fully integrate with RTSM, ... eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic clinical outcomes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening to conquer ... in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, has today ... world,s first internet connected hearing aid that opens up ...      (Photo: ) , ... , TwinLink™ - the first dual communication ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: