Nanomedicine: Drugs can be made 'smarter'
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A new method has been developed to make drugs ‘smarter’ using nanotechnology so they will be more effective at reaching their target.

Scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK, have devised a new technique to ‘decorate’ gold nanoparticles with a protein of choice so they can be used to tailor drug to more accurately target an area on the body, such as a cancer tumour.

Gold nanoparticles are spheres made of gold atoms having a diameter of only few billionths of a metre which can be coated with a biological protein and combined with drugs to enable the treatment to travel through the body and reach the affected area.

The nanoparticles can ‘adsorb’ (hold on its surface) drugs which would otherwise become insoluble or quickly degrade in the blood stream, and due to their small size they can overcome biological barriers such as membranes, skin and the small intestine which would usually prevent the drug from reaching its target.

The technology is already used in real world applications such as pregnancy tests – where gold nanoparticles decorated with an antibody against the hormone present in the urine of pregnant women is added to the ‘positive’ strip so it reacts

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