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MIT's New Nanoparticles Tag Team Cancer Cells

Illustration for article titled MITs New Nanoparticles Tag Team Cancer Cells

There are a ton of impressive applications of nanoparticles in medicine, especially cancer treatment, but MIT's new take on the process is pretty awesome. It uses two kinds of particles to do the job: one to find the tumors, the other to kick their ass.

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Nanoparticles have already been used to make delivery of cancer drugs more efficient, but the use of these new scouting particles, which call the delivery particles to the site of the tumor, has increased the amount of medicine that reaches the tumors by a factor of 40 in trials.

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The scouting cells (gold nanorods) work by entering the pores of tumors and heating up enough to cause a blood clotting reaction. Then the delivery particles attach themselves to an enzyme called Factor XIII, which is attracted to the site of the tumor during the clotting process.

Right now the process is still in its early phases. The research team admits that it needs to be simplified, especially because cancer patients are so prone to clotting all over their bodies, and the delivery particles will need a way to lock onto only the tumor clots. But still, even with all the challenges ahead, the idea that we're close to a cancer treatment that's forty times more efficient than what we have now is a pretty wonderful proposition. [Nature]

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DISCUSSION

It seems like all the really promising research being done to kill cancer like this is procedureal based? For me, I think that is the right approach and that is good, however I think pharmacuetical companies are REALLY evil and it makes me really nervous. If you are a big pharma company, you want the cure for cancer to a pill. THAT is where the money is! If it is a procedure you have to pay the doctor, and the hospital, and its harder to charge for your procedure and prove its your's etc.

The problem is, I don't know if the cure for cancer is in the realm of big pharma. Despite that we raise a tremendous amount of money in the US (5k's, marathon, etc) for cancer research... but no one really asks where that money goes to or how its used. Right now most of it goes to big pharma companies that could be wasting their time with it looking for a pill. Or even worse (which I would put past them) they may know the cure is procedural based and decide that it is more profitable to collect research money than find the cure. If one company finds a cure, the others suffer. But if there is no cure, they all get funding money that they can spend however they want.

I know this sounds like I am really cynical and gloom and doom, but consider this article from April 2008 [gizmodo.com]

A guy with no medical background gets close to finding a procedureal cure for himself. I reckon the technique in today's MIT article is similiar. And you mean to tell me, no one at any of these big pharma companies, with their muli million dollars of free money pouring in, thought of something this!? Makes me think they are either hording the money or looking for a pill instead of procedure.