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Biotech Science

New Nanoparticle Cancer Therapy 81

quixote9 tips us to a BBC story on a promising new cancer therapy using targeted nanoparticles. From the article: "The researchers used the nanoparticles to zero in on the network of blood vessels that supply the tumors in mice with nutrients and oxygen... [They] developed a technique for amplifying [the nanoparticles'] homing ability by designing a multifunctional nanoparticle that binds to a protein structure found only in tumors and associated blood vessels... The tests showed that within hours of the injection, the artificial platelets began blocking the supply without harming normal tissues. The scientists believe the nanoparticles could also be used to carry drugs to the tumor."
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New Nanoparticle Cancer Therapy

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  • Smart-recreation. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The scientists believe the nanoparticles could also be used to carry drugs to the brain.

  • he said with a collective smirk
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:49PM (#17529762) Homepage
    The scientists believe the nanoparticles could also be used to carry drugs to the tumor.

    I believe in a twelve-step program, they call that being an "enabler".
  • Stand in awe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mulhollandj ( 807571 )
    Sometimes I look at how things like this work and I am just amazed and somewhat grateful to be living in an age with such incredible technology.
    • Sometimes I look at how things like this work and I am just amazed and somewhat grateful to be living in an age with such incredible technology.

      Gee, now you made me feel like a dick for my typical cynical, sarcastic response. God* bless ya, brother.

      * substitute with deity of choice
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fred_A ( 10934 )
      Sometimes I look at how things like this work and I am just amazed and somewhat grateful to be living in an age with such incredible technology.
      Yes, if you're a mouse you can get cured of pretty much anything nowadays...
  • Halfway there, maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lurker2288 ( 995635 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:56PM (#17529912)
    I wonder what happens when the tumor is gone and a tiny little lump of clustered nanoparticles is free to float around on its own. Stroke, anybody? I'm not a doctor, but they're probably going to need to find a way to dissolve these artificial clots when they finish with the therapy, or they'll cause all sorts of circulatory problems.
    • I'm not a doctor

      No shit Sherlock... Wow, it amazes me on Slashdot, here are people who have used targeted nano technology to bind to and then starve cancers and your input into the debate is "oh yeah but what happens to the nano particles". Well the answer is that now that the doctors have read your response they've added a new piece of programming which means after the cancer is cured then then bind together with nano particles from other bodies creating a killing machine that is programmed with your DNA
    • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:18PM (#17530366) Journal
      I wonder what happens when the tumor is gone and a tiny little lump of clustered nanoparticles is free to float around on its own.

      We send in even tinier, deadlier non-particles to destroy the clumps. I can imagine some of you wondering, "Isn't that a bit short sighted?" Well, then we just release wave after wave of chinese needle nanoparticles. Some negative nellies will no doubt complain, "Isn't that even worse?" But we're prepared for that! We've lined up a fabulous new 'gorilla' nanoparticle that thrives on needles. "But then we're stuck with gorillas?" I can hear you asking. That's the beautiful part, when winter rolls around the gorillas just freeze to death.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dan Slotman ( 974474 )
      You probably end up pissing them out or something equally boring. As far as unbound particles go, if they stay in your bloodstream forever, that would be a good thing. No new tumors.
    • by milamber3 ( 173273 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:31PM (#17530654)
      I'm not sure how long it takes to kill the cancer by blocking its blood supply but I work with nanoparticles in my lab and the ones we create are biodegradable and can be made to last for varying amounts of time (~1-7 days normally) based on the material. I suppose they could greatly decrease the chance of problems post-cancer if they formulate the clot to degrade after average amount of time needed to starve the cancer.
      • In Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" wasn't there a design requirement on biodegradablity/biologically inert, for all nanotech?
    • by Xybot ( 707278 )
      I believe researchers are currently working on a Genetically modified Tumor that targets nanoparticles
    • What part of "without harming normal tissues" fails to address your concern? It's in TFS, for $DEITY's sake!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sytonit ( 1030836 )

      I'm a chemist that does drug formulations and I have made nanoparticles. The nanoparticles that I made were specifically, solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs) for an oral formulation to increase bioavailability, but we have also made nanoparticles out of biodegradable polymers. The solid lipid nanoparticles dissolve quickly because of the low melting point of the lipids. The biodegradable polymers are typically poly lactic glycolic acid (PLG), which because of the large surface area of nanoparitcles should caus

  • by The evil doctor Matt ( 847030 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:59PM (#17529968)
    "the supply without harming normal tissues", however test subjects did develop a taste for human flesh and could only be stopped by a bullet or sharp blow to the head...
  • When (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swimport ( 1034164 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:59PM (#17529978) Homepage
    Every few months there is a cancer break through it seems. When are we finally going to see something in the hospitals? Is it the FDA and bureaucratic red tape, are these vapor cures? If its red tape, why not bring your drug down to Mexico, I'm sure plenty of cancer patients wont mind crossing the boarder for something that works. And if they every do cure cancer, invest all your money in Philip Morris.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It would certainly seem like cancer has been cured many times over, particularly if you get your medical news from Slashdot, where there is both a tendency to react to mostly theoretical research as if it would be available on the shelf tomorrow and a strong desire to place on the front page any article with any mention at all of nanoparticles, or nanobots, or nanos in general.
      • by zevans ( 101778 )
        a strong desire to place on the front page any article with any mention at all of nanoparticles, or nanobots, or nanos in general.

        Including "nanocontent" and "nanodupes"...
    • I'll explain using /. terminology:

      1. Cancer/AIDS/etc
      2. a. Cure OR b. Treatment
      3. Profit!

      Unfortunately, 2b makes a lot more 3 than 2a does.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Swimport ( 1034164 )
        I will admit its definitely possible that a company would rather treat someone at high cost for the rest of their life than cure them. However if they had the cure for cancer they could charge whatever they want for it. $250,000 $500,000 who knows. Also if a company was sitting on the cure for cancer, who knows, maybe a noble scientist would leak it.
      • This, by itself, doesn't drive the market like you may think. If your competition has invested a lot in developing a treatment, and they stand to make all the profits for the life of a medical patent, why not focus on an actual cure? You make at least some profit off a cure, they lose their shirt developing a now unneeded treatment, and the patients should benefit. If this is not happening at least a good fraction of the time, there must be other factors distorting the market. I'm not saying that can't be t
      • By your logic nothing would ever be cured. Besides it makes no sense. If I find a cure for cancer I can charge 10X as much as is made over the entire total treatment times and I bet the patient will still choose the cure.

        Anything that lives a long time has problems with cancers, as just breathing oxygen is carcinogenic. This is also why it seems like everything causes more cancer in rats. Rats have short lifespans and do not have as many defences against cancer as longer lived species
    • by rbanzai ( 596355 )
      Some "breakthroughs" lead to dead ends, some are just paving the way to more effective treatments down the road. Some are so targeted that they aren't applicable to more than one type of cancer, or one particular form of a single type of cancer.

      Red tape can indeed slow things down but it can also help winnow out the wheat from the chaff.

      Far too many people "cross the border" not for actual treatments but bogus crap out of desperation, and then they die anyway. Wheee! //cancer survivor ///had lots of rads //
    • by Xybot ( 707278 )
      Would you like to be the one who signs off on offering patients with terminal cancer a treatment that could potentially harm their health? Hmmm?
      • Re:When (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Swimport ( 1034164 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:59PM (#17531132) Homepage
        Would you like to be the one who signs off on offering patients with terminal cancer a treatment that could potentially harm their health? Hmmm?

        As long as they knew the risks ahead of time, yes I would. If there is a treatment that might help, but also may hurt someone who is going to die from cancer anyway, who is anyone to keep that treatment from them should they decide they want to take the risk??
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Look into it, you will see they are making it into hospitals.

      Cancer survivability is way up, treatements are getting better. There is a long way to go, but we are getting there.
    • I was thinking about the last big cancer breakthrough that said doctors were targeting the wrong thing when trying to fight cancer for the last however many decades. They try to kill the tumour but leave the cancer stem cells that perpetuate the disease. That's why when they remove the tumour, the cancer just eventually grows back. If they can target the cancer stem cells with the nano-particles that would be cool. Get rid of the the symptoms and the disease.
      • by nietsch ( 112711 )
        The percentage of stemcells in tumors may be higher, but if you only target the stemcells, the patient still has a tumor that keeps on growing. These tumors will not go away by themselves. On the other hand, if you assume that all cancerous stemcells are inside of the tumor, then attacking the tumor as a whole is a good strategy.
        • I agree that the tumour has to be removed, but I was thinking of the Slashdot article Stem Cells At The Core of Cancer? [] That one says if you kill the cancer stem cells, the tumour stops growing... but doesn't really say if it goes away... maybe the body would then be able to catch up and kill off the rogue cells, I don't know. We already know how to cut out most cancers with a knife (that just requires a high tech mechanic... errrr surgeon), but then the patients have a relapse and die anyway. It strikes m

  • Now after I get cancer by inhaling nanoparticles, they can inject me with some to cure it.
  • Hope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by simonharvey ( 605068 )
    Although I think that this is a great idea with alot of good potential however I cannot seriously see this coming into fruition due to the IP, testing and marketing that has to be done.

    I do hope that something good comes out of it. But it is that you hear about little break throughs like these all of the time and nothing seems to come from them due to the massive hurdles that keep coming up.

    Kind Regards
    Simon Harvey

  • too much of the world's attention and resources have been spent on AIDS/HIV research. How many people do you personally know with AIDS/HIV? How many do you know with cancer? Wonder if something like this would work on a tumor that doesn't have a major blood supply like the cancer my wife has???
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Poruchik ( 1004331 )
      This is utterly irrelevant. And wrong-headed. My grandfather has cancer (lymphoma), but none of my relatives has had a heart attack. Does it mean I should go rant to stop all cardio related research in favor of cancer research? Any and all research (the usual caveats apply) is good thing.
    • I dare you to go to sub-Saharan Africa and ask that same "how many do you know" question. AIDS/HIV is a greater threat than cancer because it is transmissable.
      • by dlt074 ( 548126 )
        i'd bet they don't "know" many people with AIDS/HIV and that is the problem. they are ignorant of and thus perpetuating their problem.
      • I do not disagree about Africa nor about it being transmissable. My point is, that I believe we would either have a cure or be closer if so much of the resources weren't diverted to AIDS/HIV research. Again, just my opinion.
        • by BCW2 ( 168187 )
          They aren't going to find a cure for Aids any time soon. Sorry but in the entire history of medicine they have yet to find a cure for a single viral disease. They have come up with many vacinations to prevent them but never a cure. There is a much better chance of a vacine than a cure and even that will be difficult because it seems to be a moving target that evolves/morphs/changes just enough that nothing works more than a few times on any variant.
      • Some kid in grade school just proved you wrong with simple numbers.

        Aids is easily prevented, while many innocent people continue to die of cancer. To call AIDS the greater threat is asinine. 05/adcom/cancer_vs_aids/death.html []
    • 1. Truly sorry to hear about the wife

      2. See this [].
    • 39 million people are living with HIV/AIDS as of 2005 according to WHO data and the 2006 numbers are going to be higher, so please don't act like no one has it anymore. I know there are probably more people with cancer (in total) but you have to understand cancer is not one disease. It is hundreds of different diseases under one label. Fighting one type is not always the same as fighting another so if you break up all the different cancers into groups there are only a few with numbers that rival 39 milli
      • That 39M number is suspect with regards to the numbers n Africa. In Sub-Sahara Africa, if someone has any of a number of "AIDS related diseases" such as TB (which is rampant on it's own), dysentery, wasting (also caused by starvation!), etc. they are classifed has having AIDS/HIV. There is very little diagnosing of HIV/AIDS with testing in Africa so IMNSHO we can't place any faith in the accuracy (high or low) of these numbers. I've read several studies about how they got that number and it's basically a S
    • There's been less research on both. Pharmaceutical companies have been finding it a better return on investment to advertize the drugs they have than find new ones. Also, governments have been slashing scientific research funding.
    • Did you ever consider that it is not in the best interest of pharmaceutical companies to see either cancer or AIDS cured?

      We're talking obscene sums of money here. They'll do what needs to be done to keep the cash cow alive.
  • by macklin01 ( 760841 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:43PM (#17530872) Homepage

    Some of my colleagues (e.g., Vittorio Cristini []) have been modeling the potential benefits of nanoparticle drug delivery for a couple of years now. As has been known for some time (e.g., see papers from R.K. Jain), the blood vessels that grow to supply tumors with nutrients (the tumor-induced neo-vasculature) are different than regular, non-pathological vessels. They tend to be more tortuous and leaky, with larger holes than regular vessels.

    This is where the nanoparticles come in: one can design nanoparticles that encapsulate cancer drugs in particles that are too large to exit normal blood vessels but can pass through the leakier, tumor-induced blood vessels. This naturally targets cancerous tissues.

    However, there are other issues to consider. Due to the high pressure inside tumors (due to the rapid proliferation of cells within a confined area, among other factors), along with the leaky vessels, blood flow can be very poor inside a tumor, and so while the drug may be targeted toward and delivered to the tumor, it may not actually penetrate very far into the tumor. Some great work has been done by Steven McDougall [], Sandy Anderson [], and Mark Chaplain [] in this area. In particular, look at their DATIA (dynamic adaptive tumour-induced angiogenesis) papers.

    One way around this (suggested by R.K. Jain and Vittorio Cristini, among others) is to use targeted anti-angiogenic therapy to prune out the worse blood vessels and improve flow within the tumors, thereby also improving drug delivery and penetration.

    Lastly, on the therapeutic aspect of blocking up tumor blood vessels with the nanoparticles, the work we've done (see this paper [], which will appear in the Journal of Theoretical Biology soon), indiscriminately cutting off the nutrient supply to a tumor can increase tumor invasiveness by increasing morphological (shape) instability. (See some of the animations here [].) So ironically, while more tumor cells may be killed, those that remain may spread farther and initiate new tumors. Given that hypoxic tumor cells are more likely to be resilient to further treatment (e.g., hypoxic breast cancer cells), this is a problem worth keeping in mind when planning anti-angiogenic therapy.

    If you're interested in these topics, please do check out the paper above. (You can also download it at my website [] without any special memberships.) Even if you don't like it, we have a lot of references you may find handy. -- Paul

  • Basic Stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @07:16PM (#17531416) Homepage Journal
    What about just some generic artificial platelets [] that clot bloody wounds like the natural platelets? Platelets are by far the most short-supplied blood product that constrains blood products. Every serious trauma patient who gets into a hospital quickly exhausts their own platelets, and consumes easily a half-dozen donors, usually triple or more the amount of red blood cells they consume.

    Anticancer targeted platelets are a great advance. But many times as many people need the simpler generic stuff. Before pharmacos get paid lots of public money for the anticancer platelets they'll surely patent for maximum profit (after heavily subsidized and risk-mitigated development), they should produce the generic platelets that aren't as profitable, but help save many more people.
  • I admit to a large amount of cluelessness in this area, so can someone enlighten me on a semantic distinction?

    I know that all things "nano" are hot right now, but if this had been invented 15 years ago, would it just have been called a "drug"? In other words, is this simply an engineered molecule or substance or whatever that binds to specific receptors in certain ways for certain effects... what makes it "nano" other than its size? If that's the only criteria, then why aren't ALL drugs "nanoparticles"?
  • Who wants a cancer cure these days?

    Cancer is a fantastic business that is making the big pharmaceutical [] companies and the government ludicrous profits []. The chances are that if there was an amazing cure out there, we would hear very little of it. There is a strong conflict of interest regarding the cure of the most common and deadly diseases.

    Maybe this breakthrough discovery has made it this far precisely because it is not going to cure cancer so easily (and definitely not cheaply) after all. Helping the

  • This has some great potential for immunohistochemistry [], one of the major methods of measurement in Neuroscience. Essentially this would allow much cleaner binding to target sites, and thus cleaner readings.
    One of the difficult things using current methodology is how to colocalize two or more different types of receptors, seeing which cells contains chemicals x and y, have receptors a and b, or some combination thereof. Being able to identify these structures more reliably and more cleanly will take a lot
  • Someone should call ImClone. What's the difference between a "nanoparticle" and a "small molecule"?

    I say this mostly in jest to illustrate how overbearing IP can be in today's world. More power (and funding) to the researchers who are pushing this forward.
  • Geeks talk about the importance of people, but anything involving Microsoft will have 500+ comments in 5 minutes, and anything involving science will have barely 100+ in an hour.

    I survived cancer. My body, through whatever freak genetics and immune system programming, managed to wall off all of the cancerous tissue into nodes and the doctor, 9 months later, excised them and didn't contaminate my system with a single cell. I owe that man my life- it's interesting to live your life knowing that from the age
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orcrist ( 16312 )

      Geeks talk about the importance of people, but anything involving Microsoft will have 500+ comments in 5 minutes, and anything involving science will have barely 100+ in an hour.

      Perhaps there are a bunch of lurkers who -- like me -- don't feel qualified to comment on such a highly technical subject outside their field or experience. I'm certainly interested in this subject and what people have to say about it, but I'm not likely to be able to throw in a point of fact like I might in a Linux vs. MS flamewar

  • We hear about these new hi-tech and revolutionary cures for cancer and other diseases every month. But when will it hit the market? Not before millions die before cancer within the next year.
  • Not sure if it's obvious to others, but this seems to me like a really good way to kick off medicine in a new direction.
    Let's say this technique fails to cure cancer - that's not the end of the road, though - someone will surely try it to target nanoparticles elsewhere, like AIDS. I'd invest a lot of money into this venture if I had any :)
  • popularized notion of nanotech is that nanites that actually perform stuff, compared to what really happening now is, basically smashing stuff to very small proportions. In itself is interesting, but not as cool and challanging as building microbots that do operate on molecular level. Its the sort of co-relating plasma and nuclear detonated propulsion to be alike based on the fact that it they both use atoms.

    I suppose people should call things what they are, nano-pulverisation and nano-engineering, would be
  • Allow me a small disclaimer: I apologize to any person in specific who has been touched by cancer, I mean this post to be in general, an abstraction applying to all humans as a whole.

    I hate to be a heartless asshole but maybe cancer is a natural method of population control.

    If nobody were to die of cancer, and if we were to find cures for heart disease and strokes, and cure AIDS......... wouldn't the population of earth just keep increasing until nobody has enough natural resources to support themselves?

  • Very cool in itself.

    I got to be imagining War of the Worlds when reading about what these little guys can do.

    In 15-20 years it will be the much improved Nanites vs the young and upcoming bacteria bots that can form themselves into pieces of equipment in your body (based on a previous article).

    In the end, them red/white blood cells will be very outdated amdist the new War of the Miniture Worlds. [] - the jobbank for posting your job search, resume, job posts or other employment needs

  • And for How Much?

    I have a relative in DIRE need, with a very far progressed cancer... Actually the situation is VERY DESPERATE!

    I wish this would have come out long time ago... I wish my grandma could get this NOW...
  • The last sentence seems important...

    "The scientists believe the nanoparticles could also be used to carry drugs to the tumor."

    Interesting. I believe, soon, scientists will find a way to deliver powerfully addictive drugs to these cancer cells. Once addicted, drugs will be removed. The cancer cells, then, will eat each other in order to get their "fix". And once there's only 1 cell left, it will eat itself.
  • The "Tracking proteine" you mention is actually known as ampetite (though my spelling is not renowned for being sufficiently accurate, especially with medical terms), and is more of a radar for the hollowed shell the chemo-therapy drugs have bee stored in.
    When the "virus" locates the tumor (not the "cells" in the bloodstream) it latches on, and produces a scaled explosion equivelent to if you were to watch a five ton atom bomb on impect course with the earths crust.
    Don't let this scare you. Remember, it'

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.