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Nanodiamonds to Help Combat Cancer

Dean Ho, who is an associate professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, says a carbon atom known as a nanodiamond could provide a drug delivery system to treat difficult cancers.

Ho, working closely with scientists, engineers and doctors, conducted research on cancer of the liver and breast in vitroo. He is also a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. The team discovered that an amount of a chemotherapy drug, which would otherwise have proved to be lethal, reduced the cancerous growth when  tied to nanodiamonds. The treatment also enhanced chances of survival while minimizing the effect of toxics on the surrounding tissues and organs. This proved that cancers that were hitherto hard to treat and cure would be cured with the nanodiamond. The team has published the research paper in the March 9 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

A nanodiamond is a carbon-based substance about 2 to 8 nanometers in diameter. Its surface has functional groups allowing for a range of compounds to be bound to it. The compounds include chemotherapy agents. The researchers took these nanodiamonds and reversibly bound the common chemotherapy drug doxorubicin to them using a scalable synthesis process, which enhances sustained drug release.

That team discovered that drugs could enter tumors in the liver and breast of mice, but were immediately thrown out because these organs possessed an inherent quality that resisted these drugs. The team discovered that when the chemotherapy drug was administered along with the nanodiamond, it remained with the tumor long enough to reduce the size of the tumor.



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