Researchers create specialized delivery methods to help treat cancer, other disorders
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IMAGE: David Porciani and his team demonstrated that specialized nucleic acid-based nanostructures could be used to target cancer cells while bypassing normal cells. view more 

Credit: Erica Overfelt, Bond Life Sciences Center

More than 100 years ago, German Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich popularized the “magic bullet” concept — a method that clinicians might one day use to target invading microbes without harming other parts of the body. Although chemotherapies have been highly useful as targeted treatments for cancer, unwanted side effects still plague patients. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have demonstrated that specialized nucleic acid-based nanostructures could be used to target cancer cells while bypassing normal cells.

“Most of the therapeutic drugs are not able to discriminate the cancer cells from healthy cells,” said David Porciani, a postdoctoral fellow in Donald Burke’s lab at the MU Bond Life Sciences Center. “They are killing both cell populations (healthy and malignant), and the treatment can have harsher side effects than the cancer itself in the short term. We are developing ‘smart’ molecules that can bind with receptors that are found on the surface of cancer cells, thus representing a cancer signature. The idea is to use these smart molecules

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