By Cameron Chai
Sandia National Laboratories, the University of New Mexico, and the UNM Cancer Research and Treatment Center have jointly combined nanotechnology and medical research to develop a technique to use nano-particles to destroy cancer cells with multiple drugs.
The team honeycombed silica nano-particles measuring 150nm in diameter with holes that are able to store large quantities of multiple drugs.
The nano-particles along with the surrounding membranes developed from liposomes form a protocell. The membrane does not allow the drugs to escape and is changed with molecules or peptides that attach to receptors on the surface of the cancer cell. The presence of multiple receptors indicates that the cell is cancerous. The nanoparticles provide stability to the membrane, hold and release the drugs into the cell.
Lead author Carlee Ashley, a Harry S. Truman post-doctoral fellow at Sandia's California division, says liposomes that are deployed as carriers require loading systems that render the process difficult. RNA is used to combat the cellular factory, in order to apoptosis or kill the cancerous cell. The lipids restrict toxic chemotherapy drugs from entering the cell till the protocell establishes itself in the cell. This will also protect non-cancerous cells.
A range of phages that fight bacteria was developed by collaborator David Peabody. This allowed the team to expose the phages to a group of cancerous and normal cells to help identify peptides that attach to cancerous cells.
The research paper will appear in the May issue of Nature Materials, and is already published online on April 17.