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Treatments > Nanotechnologies

Last update: 04/24/2010

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NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer: News


How will nanotechnology be applied to cancer? 

"Nano" means small - very small. Literally, it means one billionth. Nanotechnology is the study and design of systems at the nanometer scale - the scale of atoms and molecules.  And the technology is being applied now to finding better ways to treat and detect cancers. 

"Nanotechnology is no stranger to oncology: liposomes are early examples of cancer nanotherapeutics, and nanoscale-targeted magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents illustrate the application of nanotechnology to diagnostics." 2


Nanoparticles can have multiple actions that can provide detailed information on many disease processes simultaneously. 1

Nanoscale devices 

can deliver multiple therapeutic agents to a tumor in order to simultaneously attack multiple points in the pathways involved in cancer.

In vivo nano-biosensors 

have the capability of detecting and pinpointing the location of tumors in the body - as well as metastatic lesions (tumors that have moved away from the primary site) - that are far smaller than those detectable using conventional technologies.

Detecting cancer before it spreads completely changes the game when it comes to treating cancer, since non-metastatic cancer is rarely fatal. Nano-enabled in vivo sensors may also provide rapid information on whether a given therapy is actually working as expected, and targeted nano-based therapeutics that hone in on tumors stand to increase the efficacy of drugs while dramatically reducing potential side effects.1

Articles and Webcasts

  1. Nanotechnology in Cancer Spotlighted at NSTI Nanotech 2005  nano.cancer.gov 
  2. Cancer Nanotechnology:  OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES  nature.com 
  3. Researchers Explore Possible Applications of Nanotechnology in Cancer Treatment  mdanderson.org
  4. Drug delivery: A tiny timely vehicle  nature.com 

    "the nanocells containing both drugs resulted in the lowest systemic toxicity of all of the treatments. This is probably because the cytotoxic agent is localized to the tumour so effectively"
  5. Method of laser activated nano-thermolysis for elimination of tumor cells [purging harvested stem cells]. Cancer Lett. 2005 Sep 30; PMID: 16202512 | Related articles
  6. Preclinical: Houston cancer center starts testing radio-wave theory  tmcnet.com 

    radio-wave in tandem with carbon nanotubes. 

  7. Video Journey Into Nanotechnology -  nano.cancer.gov 
  8. Preclinical: Heat immunotherapy using magnetic nanoparticles and dendritic cells for T-lymphoma - http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=17030475 

    "... we investigated the therapeutic effects of hyperthermia combined with DC immunotherapy on mouse EL4 T-lymphoma."
  9. Nanotherapeutics: Multifunctional Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery and Targeting - nano.cancer.gov 

    The use of nanoparticles for drug delivery and targeting is one of the most advanced, exciting, and clinically important applications of nanotechnology.
  10. UC Davis Researchers Use Heated Nanoprobes To Destroy Cancer Cells In Mice - nanotechwire.com

    The experimental system uses bioprobes created by wedding magnetized iron-oxide nanospheres to radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies. The bioprobes are cloaked in polymers and sugars that render them nearly invisible to the body's immune system.
  11. Scientists Directly Target Cancer Cells Patients Could Avoid Chemotherapy's Effects - Reuters

    SYDNEY (May 10) - An Australian biotechnology firm said on Thursday it had developed a means of delivering anti-cancer drugs directly to cancer cells, which aims to avoid the debilitating toxicity associated with chemotherapy. 

    "Via antibodies on their surface, these nano-cells target and latch on to cancer cells. Once attached, the nano-cell is engulfed and the drug is released directly inside the cancer cell." 
  12. preclinical/hopeful: Radio Waves Fire Up Nanotubes Embedded In Tumors, Destroying Liver Cancer ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2007) 
    — Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by non-invasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University has shown in preclinical experiments.
  13. Non-invasive Targeted Radiofrequency  Cancer Treatment  Destroying Cancer Cells with Radio Waves  kanziuscancerresearch.com/  

    "The treatment concept: ... a “targeting molecule” (antibody) is designed that will seek out and attach to or penetrate through that unique site, the targeting molecule is chemically attached to a gold nanoparticle or carbon nanotube, and the combination is injected into the bloodstream of the patient. The targeting molecule(s) eventually delivers the nanoparticle(s) to the cancer cell(s). It is particularly exciting that metastatic cancer cells might also be targeted. Exposure of the area to the radiowaves causes the nanoparticles to warm sufficiently to kill the cancer cells. This will require an extensive research effort, especially to be able to ultimately treat the variety of cancers potentially susceptible to this treatment approach." 
  14. Nano-Basics for Clinicians
    A Tutorial September 8, 2008 Milan Mrksich The University of Chicago, HHMI
    nano.cancer.gov  pdf  
  15. Preclinical: Thermal ablation of lymphoma cells with carbon nanotubes http://bit.ly/awgJny


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